District attorneys in Massachusetts are suspending the use of breath tests as evidence in drunken driving cases after State Police notified them of “potential issues” concerning breathalyzers used in the state.
Essentially, police said there may be a problem with accuracy of some of the tests.
The Essex County District Attorney’s office said they were notified that there was a possible issue with at least five cases.
A state review, that office was told, is underway to determine “the exact nature and scope of the issue.
DA Jonathan Blodgett has advised his staff to suspend use of the breathalyzer test results in all open OUI cases until that review is completed. His office said that directive was made “in an abundance of caution.”
Prosecutors involved in those cases will proceed with other evidence, according to that DA’s office.
“It is premature to speculate as to the possible impact this review will have on current or previous cases,” said a spokeswoman for that office in a statement.
According to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, state officials told her office about the potential problems with several ongoing cases in her jurisdictions. Last week, however, State Police told her office “that the problem may go beyond those isolated cases.”
“As a result of this additional information, conscious always of our obligation to ensure that the integrity of our evidence be above reproach and in an abundance of caution, I have instructed Assistant District Attorneys in my office to suspend the use of breath test results in operating under the influence cases until further notice,” said Ryan in a statement.
Cape and the Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe has also suspended use of the test results in OUI cases. A call to that office was not immediately returned Friday.
“I have instructed our Assistant District Attorneys to refrain from introducing the breath test in any case and to so inform defense counsel until we receive further information from the Executive Office of Public Safety,” said the DA in a statement. “At the same time police have been advised that they should continue to offer the test but to take care to follow the protocols set forth in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations respecting alcohol testing devices.