The government estimates that 27,000 drunk driving cases may be eligible to be reopened as a result of the breathalyzer challenge over the last 2 years. As a result of a court ruling, previous defendants will be getting letters about their old cases that may be reopened.
How did we get here?
Massachusetts uses a breathalyzer machine known as the Drager 9510 along with many other states. Each state created a bunch of regulations to deal with the breathalyzer from periodic tests, to certification of the person giving the breathalyzer, to the individual tests that a suspect takes at the police station.
After many years and hours of hearings in front of Judge Brennan, several rulings were made pertaining how to deal with the breathalyzer issue. One of the major issues was that the machine itself was not calibrated to what was allowed under the Massachusetts regulation. As a result, even when the machine was testing outside of the permissible limit, the machine was still showing a passed calibration test.
During the hearings itself, many district attorney's offices were not using breathalyzer results in the prosecution of cases. After the ruling, there were many changes that the court required. First, the office of alcohol and testing was required to be certified. OAT has since been certified. Second, the prosecutor offices has preemptively agreed that approximately 27,000 cases from 2011 to 2019 where there were breathalyzers used, they are now presumptive invalid. And finally, the government is going to contact about 27,000 defendants in those cases to tell them about the court ruling.
If you or anyone you know gets a letter, it is important to assess the case. If you went to trial and the breathalyzer was used against you and you may be eligible for a new trial. If you plead to a case because there is a breathalyzer, you may had a good reason to revise and revoke the sentence and reopen the case.
Prior to deciding if reopening the case or requesting a new trial, you should speak with a lawyer. There are several factors that you need to consider prior to reopening your case. If reopening your case may put your case in jeopardy then it may not be the right move for you.