In February 2021, the Worcester District Attorney’s Office announced that more than 27,000 individuals convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Massachusetts can request new trials. The DA reports that state courts admitted unreliable, possibly inaccurate breath test results into evidence between 2011 and 2018.
Learn more about these cases and the future of breath test use in the state.
Issues with the breath test
Individuals who are eligible for a new test received breath test screening with the Alcotest 9510. Although the machine itself is reliable, it was not properly maintained and calibrated for several years. The DA also found that some Massachusetts courts used improper certification methodology for the testing equipment. Many relied on technicians who did not have the appropriate training.
The ability to request a new trial does not apply to cases involving serious bodily injury or death resulting from OUI. It also does not apply to individuals who have four or more previous OUI convictions.
Next steps for Massachusetts
In June 2021, DAs across Massachusetts, including Worcester DA Joseph Early, discontinued the use of all breath tests in OUI cases pending the results of an independent investigation. Some counties will continue to use breath tests on a case-by-case basis with careful review before admission into evidence.
In the meantime, individuals who have past OUI convictions can request a new trial. You may be eligible if you pleaded guilty to OUI, received a guilty verdict after a trial or served probation for this charge in the past decade.