After an investigation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts discovered that breathalyzers were not calibrated properly, 27,000 individuals with DUI convictions and guilty pleas now find themselves in a position to have their case reevaluated – without the false evidence.
According to the court, there was “egregious government misconduct” performed over an almost 8 year span from summer of 2011 to spring of 2019. The court ruled that any test by the faulty breathalyzer machines during this time shall not be used in criminal prosecutions, opening the door for DUI defense teams to correct injustice. The Court found that the state had been involved in intentionally withholding evidence – which many in Massachusetts are now comparing to the drug lab controversy which shook the legal world in years prior.
The suppression of these breath tests by the Court now allows for those who pled guilty, or those who were convicted to get a fresh chance at a favorable outcome. If a guilty plea was submitted, it can now be withdrawn. If the defendant was convicted, a new trial can be requested.
This ruling was due to what the justices saw as a due process rights violation. While not all 27,000 results were faulty, the state had evidence that there was error in the system and did not report it, which led the justices to conclude that all 27,000 individuals had their due process rights violated.
This concluded of seven years worth of litigation. Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni had originally suspended the results of the breathalyzers in 2019, before Boston District Court Judge Robert Brennen ruled in January of 2023 that the results could be used as evidence.
“7 years of litigation exposed a lot of problems with the calibrations lab that we as citizens paid millions of dollars for. The prosecutors can no longer consider the breath test for the prosecution. The litigant, the citizen, has to file a motion, a motion to vacate, that has to be brought to the judge and prosecutors, the prosecutor would have to examine it,” said Attorney for the defense, Joe Bernard.