In the eyes of many people, chemical breath tests or Breathalyzers are a gold standard for evidence collection. Many people have been told that these devices are highly accurate or even infallible. This misconception has led to the common belief that anyone facing impaired driving charges must be guilty because there’s chemical evidence.
Some people put so much faith in the accuracy of chemical breath tests that they will begin to question their own experience when it seems like the test must be wrong. While it is true that some people underestimate how much alcohol affects them, it is also a known fact that chemical breath tests also produce mistakes and bad results. In some cases, inaccurate testing or questionable results may impact people’s criminal charges.
Massachusetts has to review pending cases carefully due to breath test issues
According to records about chemical breath testing in Massachusetts, there may have been issues with the testing units or the calibration performed on them for many years that could have affected tens of thousands of impaired driving cases around the state. The issue was so serious that the courts have determined that they must review these cases, as the chemical evidence should not have been part of the trial.
Those pulled over or stopped between 2011 and 2017 may have already received written notice from the state that their case is one of more than 27,000 that could be affected by improper device calibration and maintenance. Devices used and calibrated between June of 2011 and April 17, 2017, could have produced inaccurate results. The courts will have to reconsider these cases based on other evidence available.
What these mistakes mean on a big scale
Obviously, for the nearly 30,000 individuals who faced impaired driving charges in recent years, learning about the potential mistake in testing could mean overturning a conviction.
However, the failure of chemical breath tests to provide accurate and reliable results is also noteworthy for anyone recently arrested or with pending impaired driving charges in Massachusetts. Calling the accuracy and reliability of the testing into question could play a role in the defense strategy, depending on one’s unique circumstances.