Judge Orders Exclusion Of Breath Tests From OUI Prosecutions In Mass.

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MIDDLESEX, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — On Monday, Justice of the District Court Robert Brennan ordered that breath tests be excluded from for Operating Under the Influence prosecutions in Massachusetts. The ruling said that Breathalyzer results are among the most incriminating pieces of evidence in prosecutions involving alcohol impairment. Judge Brennan wrote that their "improper inclusion in cases unfairly impacts defendants and undermines the public confidence in the criminal justice system."

The decision came after Springfield Attorney Joseph Bernard raised concerns about software problems in the devices used for breath tests and the Office of Alcohol Testing's (OAT) failure to disclose "potentially exculpatory evidence that could benefit defendants charged with OUI."

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Bernard said in a statement to WBZ NewsRadio, "After hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on litigation and millions of dollars spent on salaries and upkeep, OAT has not gotten the message that they are a public laboratory working for the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is a sad situation."

This comes after the state detected a number of tests were flawed, sending notice to defendants who took certain breath tests between June 2011 and April 2019.

The Order also detailed that an evidentiary hearing will be held on the issues raised by the consolidated defendants no more than 60 days from the Order's issuance. But pending that hearing, the defendants' motion to suspend use of breath tests has been allowed.

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