Defenses to failed Breathalyzer test results in Massachusetts Drunk Driving Arrests
Motions in DUI cases with breathalyzer test resultsWhat are the defenses to your Massachusetts drunk driving charge when you fail the breathalyzer test? One of the main avenues for a successful defense in a DUI case with breathalyzer test results is to have the results excluded from evidence at trial. The procedure for this to happen is through a motion in limine that is typically heard either on the trial date or a motion date prior to trial.
A breathalyzer test can be excluded from evidence for a number of different reasons. First, the government has to show that the machine was properly certified, calibrated, and complied with the annual certification of the Office of Massachusetts Alcohol Testing. If this requirement is not met, the breathalyzer results should not come into evidence at trial.
Massachusetts DUI law has strict procedures to follow for the police to admit breathalzyer evidenceThe government also has the burden to show that the breathalyzer test results were conducted in accordance with Massachusetts regulations. One of the main ways to exclude the breathalyzer test result is to demonstrate that the officer did not conduct a 15 minute observation period.
What is this 15 minute observation period? The 15 minute observation period is meant to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the breathalyzer test results. To ensure that during the 15 minutes prior to the test, you did not regurgitate, burp, hiccup, or that no other source of contamination occurred that would have undermined the accuracy and reliability of the breathalyzer test. Many officers do not realize the importance of the 15 minute waiting period. An evidentiary hearing where the officers have to testify as to how they conducted the breathalyzer test results can show that the police did not comply with Massachusetts drunk driving laws in administering the test in your case.
Defenses when results are at or near legal limit, case with .08 or .09 test resultsWhat are some other defenses when the test result is near the legal limit? In some cases when the test results are at or near the legal limit. An argument can be made that your test results were not above .08 given the margin of error of the machine. The breathalyzer machine has a .01 margin of error and might be impacted by other margins of error, including temperature, your medical conditions, and personal things about you that were not known to the officer and cannot be factored into the test results. There have been numerous reports of police departments using unreliable breathalyzer machines over the past six months.
The breathalyzer test cases are very scientific and complicated. It is important to have an attorney that understands the science behind breathalyzer testing, and who has had the training to understand the new and sophisticated defenses in Massachusetts drunk driving law.