Are the Results of My Breathalyzer Test Admissible In Court?
This is one part of several pages about OUI laws in Massachusetts. You should start with the introduction by clicking here.
This page discusses the admissibility of breathalyzer tests that determine your blood alcohol concentration. If you want to read more about the accuracy of those tests or the science behind the tests click here.
The first thing to consider when analyzing the admissibility of breathalyzer tests is whether you are someone who is exempt from taking the test at all. Massachusetts laws have carved out an exemption from the implied consent law for diabetics, hemophiliacs, and people who are prescribed anticoagulants such as Warfarin. If any of those conditions apply to you and you have allegedly failed a breathalyzer test, you should contact a KJC Law Firm Worcester or Boston OUI attorney immediately.
The next four factors to consider are:
- The training and qualifications of the person who administered the test.
- The care and maintenance of the machine used to conduct the test.
- The consistency of the results of the test.
- Strict compliance with the method of testing.
Not all police officers are properly trained and educated to administer a breathalyzer test. Although this is rarely an issue in the larger cities, this could be an issue for OUI arrests in the Worcester or Boston suburbs or in smaller towns. Massachusetts regulations outline the purpose and duty of the state's Office of Alcohol Testing in creating an alcohol testing program, certifying officers to administer breathalyzers, and regulating alcohol testing procedures. Most importantly the Office of Alcohol has the responsibility of "creating and maintaining the Breath Test Operator's Manual." The regulation also charges the Director of the Office of Alcohol with the duty to "establish a uniform statewide training and certification program for Breath Test Operators." At this time no such manual exists and the Massachusetts Court of Appeals is weighing what impact, if any, that has on Massachusetts OUI cases. However, any police officer who uses the machine must be properly trained and certified in order for the test to be admissible in court and your experienced KJC Law Firm Worcester and Boston OUI attorney will know exactly how to investigate the qualifications of the testing officer in your case.
Similarly, the machines themselves must be properly maintained and tested prior to conducting the test. A defendant is entitled to examine the make and model of the machine, operator’s manuals from the manufacturer, and test results conducted before the breath test is conducted. A machine that has not been properly calibrated and maintained by a qualified police officer cannot produce results that are sufficiently reliable to be admissible in court.
Even when machines are properly calibrated, they must produce results that are sufficiently consistent. Each driver suspected of operating under the influence will be provided four test results: a calibration test, a blood alcohol test for the driver, a second calibration test, and a second blood alcohol test for the driver. Those tests must all be within certain parameters for them to be considered to be admissible in court. Your experienced KJC Law Firm Worcester and Boston OUI attorney will know precisely how to examine and evaluate those test results.
Finally, there are many factors that can render the test results inadmissible. A qualified officer must engage in an extended period of observation of the test subject and must certify, under oath, that for a period of time the officer did observe the subject. If a test subject sneezes, coughs, hiccups, burps, vomits, chews gum or candy, or engages in a number of other actions during this observation period the test may not be conducted and the observation period must start over. Your Worcester or Boston OUI attorney will not only question the officer about this waiting period but will also obtain video evidence from the police station if available. Very often the officer will be distracted during this observation period as he or she answers telephones, writes reports, or assists with other matters at the police station. If the prosecutor cannot prove that the observation period was strictly complied with your experienced KJC Law Firm Worcester and Boston OUI attorney may be able to get the BAC test evidence thrown out of court.
If you or a family member has been charged with OUI, call KJC Law Firm for a free consultation. We will tell you whether you have a defense and help you fight your case. The OUI lawyers at KJC Law Firm in Worcester and Boston have more than 60 years of experience litigating major cases, including numerous criminal defense cases in general, and OUI cases specifically. We have the resources to investigate your claim, hire the necessary experts, and get you the justice that you deserve. KJC Law Firm represents people accused of crimes from communities all across Massachusetts, including the Greater Boston area, Cambridge, MetroWest, Cape Cod, Fall River, Lowell, Worcester and Springfield.