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How reliable are BAC results?

Whatever the circumstances surrounding your arrest for operating under the influence of alcohol, from the moment police pulled you over, your rights were at risk. Even if you have no prior experience with OUI charges, you likely understood immediately the long-reaching consequences you would face if convicted. Once at the police station, Massachusetts police asked you to submit to a breath test, and it registered your blood alcohol content at .08.

Since .08 is the threshold for OUI, you may think you have no chance of challenging the evidence against you. However, there is every reason to seek a professional opinion about your options. In fact, in light of recent investigations into Massachusetts criminal justice practices, you may be surprised at your chances of a more favorable outcome.

Failures of crime labs

State crime labs are responsible for preserving, testing and analyzing evidence law enforcement investigators collect at crimes scenes. At the scene of your OUI arrest, an officer may have asked you to blow into a breath testing apparatus to register your BAC. While the results of portable BAC tests are generally not admissible in court, the results of the breath test you take after your arrest are, and the crime labs are responsible for maintaining and calibrating these machines for the most accurate results.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case with the Office of Alcohol Testing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In fact, for years the agency apparently neglected to properly service and calibrate the breath testing devices, and their agents did not disclose this omission to attorneys defending or prosecuting drunk driving cases. As a result, the verdicts of more than 35,000 may be in question.

Evidence is not proof

This goes to show you that BAC testing is not foolproof. In addition to mistakes in administering the tests, collecting samples, properly storing them and avoiding contamination, the proper functioning of the equipment used to process the evidence is critical to getting an accurate result. You may also be shocked to learn that in some labs, including here in Massachusetts, forensic scientists are not above altering test results to benefit the prosecution or simply through negligence.

You likely know that the best way to avoid a conviction for OUI is to never get behind the wheel after you have been drinking alcohol. However, it is possible that the BAC of some who face OUI convictions were not at the legal threshold because their results came from faulty breath analysis. Because of these and other possibilities, it is always wise to seek legal counsel if you are arrested for alcohol-related offenses.

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Anthony M. Salerno, P.C.
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Worcester, MA 01608

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