A Massachusetts judge may have opened a can of worms for the state's courts, but for the thousands of Dui defendants in the state, this may wipe important state's evidence from their cases. On Friday a Massachusetts judge ruled that Breathalyzer tests given to DUI suspects will be excluded if machine used to test the defendant's breath was calibrated prior to September 14, 2014.

Scientifically unreliable

According to the Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, the breath tests given by these machines that were calibrated prior to that date were found scientifically unreliable.The problem boiled down to there not being a standard procedure for calibrating the breathalyzer machines.

Without this procedure, the courts cannot find the machines reliable because the calibrations were not done properly. According to WCVB News, this means thousands of breathalyzer tests that were to be used as evidence around the state in DUI cases are thrown out.

Now what?

The Office of Alcohol Testing gave testimony in this case stating procedures were followed informally despite lack of documentation. So what does this mean?

According to the Worcester Telegraph, this opens the door for evidence in the defendants cases to be thrown out of court. The ruling made by Judge Robert A. Brennan gave defendants seeking to exclude the breathalyzer test from their case a green light.

Breathalyzer calibrations

The breathalyzer is a machine that calculates the blood alcohol level of the defendant once they've exhaled into the straw-like valve in the hand-held machine. This is a test often given on the spot when a member of law enforcement pulls someone over while they are driving and suspected of having indulged in alcohol, which impairs their ability to drive.

DUI defendants

So far more than 500 defendants have joined a consolidated case challenging the accuracy of the breathalyzer machines used in the state due to their calibration procedures, or lack of a strict procedure in this case. There are thousands of cases that were pending on the outcome of the hearing.

Judge Brennan's ruling on Thursday should not include the evidence in cases after 2014 because protocols were finally put in place toward the end of that year.

There were eight defense lawyers who argued the case. One of them, James Milligan said, "This ruling is going to be flying all over the commonwealth."

Outcome of other cases

Brennan ruled on behalf of the defendants who challenged the accuracy of the breathalyzer test. This ruling may have set a precedent and likely influence the outcome of other cases around the state. This case cost the state $475,000 in public funds and the state hired a single expert to the tune of $125,000. The judge heard testimonies from expert witnesses who traveled from Sweden and Germany.

2012 to 2014

This ruling won't just influence the court's open cases, but past DUI convictions where the breathalyzer test was used.

This ruling will also allow the defendants to challenge the outcome of their breathalyzer test in court for the time span the machines weren't properly maintained. The ruling stated that the breath tests, or breathalyzer tests given between June of 2012 and September 14, 2014 should be excluded from evidence.

The judge finds that the breathalyzers used in the state did not produce "scientifically reliable" blood alcohol readings because of the lack of official procedures when calibrating the devices.

Evidence excluded

Unless a prosecutor can convince a judge that a particular device was calibrated and tested properly, the evidence taken from the state's machines is excluded for that time period.

While the machines offer scientifically sound evidence of blood alcohol levels, the procedure for calibrating and testing the machines is what was at fault here. Not the devices themselves.

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