Massachusetts Breathalyzer Tests, Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Massachusetts Breathalyzer Tests, Should I or Shouldn’t I?

by Charles Sclafani

As of January 9, 2019 the use of breathalyzer tests in Operating Under the Influence cases in Massachusetts are suppressed and not admissible in court.  Specifically, the court has ruled that the inadmissibility of such tests shall continue until the Office of Alcohol and Testing can satisfactorily establish that the crime lab that oversees its breath-testing program is likely to receive a certain type of accreditation.

The breath tests have been under scrutiny since 2015 as a result of lawsuits challenging the reliability of breathalyzer test results, whereupon state public safety officials concluded that the Office of Alcohol Testing routinely withheld pertinent documents from defense lawyers.

Notwithstanding the current state of the legal issues of admissibility of breathalyzer tests, in the event of becoming confronted with the decision of whether to submit to a breathalyzer test and field sobriety tests, the choice is ultimately up to you.  However, here are some points to consider if ever faced with this situation:

If you had nothing or very little to drink, and there are no other factors detrimental to the probability of passing the breathalyzer test, you may safely choose to comply.

If, on the other hand, you have any doubt at all, it may be more prudent to forgo submitting to the breathalyzer test, and thereby deprive the government of such potential adverse evidence brought against you.

If you refuse the breathalyzer test, and even if you don’t, you should expect to be asked by the officer to perform a series of field sobriety tests. Most of these tests involve balance and performance of basic requests. The results of your performance in these tests may likely form the basis of an officer’s subjective opinion that you are operating under the influence, and thereby cause you to be arrested, booked, and charged with this criminal offense.   This is also the basis for the position of many defense attorneys that one should not be hesitant to refuse the field sobriety tests as well if there is reason to believe the officer has already or is likely to have formed the opinion of operation under the influence.

Without a breathalyzer test, and additionally without any field sobriety tests, you have greatly increased your likelihood of success in the event of a trial.

If you have a question about an Operating Under the Influence issue, contact us now. We can help.