Judge updates use of alcohol breath tests

  • In this Sept. 21, 2015 photo, Autumn Regimbal, 19, blows into a Breathalyzer in the wing of the county jail dedicated to the state's 24/7 Sobriety Program in Sioux Falls, S.D. Regimbal is a participant in the state's nearly decade-old project that aims to reduce drunken driving and domestic violence by requiring offenders to prove twice a day that they have not been drinking. (AP Photo/Jay Pickthorn) Jay Pickthorn

Published: 1/11/2019 12:29:19 AM

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts district court judge has ruled that alcohol breath tests will continue to be excluded as evidence from most drunken driving cases until the state police’s troubled Office of Alcohol Testing is nationally accredited.

Exceptions include OUI cases in which there was death or serious injury and in cases where the defendant is facing a fifth or subsequent OUI offense.

The Republican reported Wednesday that Judge Robert Brennan says the office must undergo major reforms and links the general admissibility of breath test evidence to the office submitting an application for accreditation that is “likely to succeed.”

The decision comes after a judge found the office failed to release information to prosecutors and defense attorneys that more than 400 breath test machines were calibrated improperly. The machines were later re-calibrated to work correctly.

On the issue of breathalyzers, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said Thursday, “It is important to have an accredited state laboratory for breathalyzer tests. These breath tests are a critical piece of evidence to help get dangerous drunk drivers off the road.”

Daily Hampshire Gazette reporter Bera Dunau contributed to this story.

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