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 an 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 suburbs or in smaller towns.
Any police officer who uses the machine must be properly trained and certified for the test to be admissible in court. KJC Law Firm attorneys 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.
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 the officer did observe the subject for a period of time. 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. 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 your attorney may be able to get the 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. KJC Law Firm has more than 125 years of experience litigating major cases. 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 across Massachusetts, including the Greater Boston area, Cambridge, MetroWest, Worcester, Springfield, Cape Cod, Fall River and Lowell.