Breath test evidence has not been used in Massachusetts since August 2017 as a result of serious discovery violations that occurred during the litigation in Commonwealth v. Ananias. This litigation originally started over whether the breath test source code was reliable, but evolved to include litigation about whether the Office of Alcohol Testing had a scientifically reliable method to certify the machines as reliable.
Recently, a hearing was conducted in which Judge Brennan reviewed evidence submitted by the State. A number of violations on behalf of the Office of Alcohol Testing were highlighted including unsanitary conditions, potential rodent contamination, and failure to properly calibrate the Alcotest machine. Defense attorneys highlighted evidence that some of the 9510 devices were used as a nesting site for rodents, and that the breath test machine tested positive for MRSA. The state’s position is that the outstanding issues related to the breath test have been addressed, citing the state’s compliance with the discovery last summer.
Defense attorneys point to the systemic issues that surround the breath test machine which inherently hinder the Office of Alcohol Testing’s ability to properly calibrate the machines that police officers utilize. As of now, the OAT is not a nationally accredited crime lab. Defense Attorneys argued that in order for the tests to be used, the OAT needs to be accredited by the American National Standards Institute-American Society for Quality. To read more about Accreditation you can read out prior blog post.