The Breathalyzer exam: IS IT RELIABLE?
In Massachusetts, whenever someone is stopped for allegedly operating under the influence of alcohol (OUI) or driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) there is a presumption that they will consent to take a breathalyzer test as a pre-requisite to having the privilege to drive a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth. This presumption/obligation means that anyone stopped by the police has a decision to make: to blow into the breathalyzer or not. The conventional advice in Massachusetts is that one should not take the breathalyzer if they have been drinking because as of now in the Commonwealth there is no separate crime for refusing the breathalyzer, as there is in some states. Therefore, the District Attorney will not be allowed to mention the defendant’s refusal at trial, as they can in some states, and one cannot be forced to submit to a blood draw, as is the case in some states. The consequence of NOT taking the test will be an administrative loss of license that is imposed immediately by the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and varies in length depending on the defendant’s prior history of drunk driving charges.
Questions about the breathalyzer exam
Can we depend on the result that it produces? What is the science behind the machine? How can we be sure that the machine is being maintained/operated properly? All of these concerns are among the questions that Attorney Rakhlin and his elite team of colleagues are currently raising before the trial court and Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth. Attorney Rakhlin is one of a small group of attorneys who was chosen in January 2016 to represent over 2,000 defendants facing drunk driving charges who consented to take the breathalyzer test. The legal challenge to the scientific reliability of the Draeger 9510 breathalyzer machine is one that affects many of Attorney Rakhlin’s clients and others in the Commonwealth whom have been charged with OUI/DUI. Because jury’s and judges are instructed to treat anyone with a breathalyzer result of over .08% as per se in violation of the law, we must be absolutely sure that this evidence is both properly obtained and completely reliable.
By employing a number of highly trained experts, the team of lawyers challenging the Draeger 9510 breathalyzer machine has been able to get permission from the Court to do what is known as static and dynamic testing of the machines and the source code used to operate them. Basically this means that Attorney Rakhlin and his colleagues are working on analyzing the software and the hardware, and looking for any problems in how the two interact when a defendant takes the breathalyzer test. While it is in the interests of the manufacturer and the Commonwealth to assert that the machines are reliable and producing valid evidence, it is in the interests of justice to make sure that is actually the case.
The challenge to the Draeger 9510 breathalyzer machine is on-going, and still has many rounds of litigation left to go. If you have been charged with OUI/DUI and decided to take the breathalyzer exam then you need to call Attorney Rakhlin to determine the best course of action in your specific case. Feel free to call him at 617-564-0466 to arrange for a free in-person or phone consultation about your case. If you don’t have a lawyer on the cutting-edge of this issue representing you, then you risk being convicted based on bad evidence, and thereby losing your license or your freedom, or both, for a significant period of time.