Cape DA issues statement on breath tests

Breathalyzer issue found, ADAs will refrain from introducing breath tests in cases

In light of a recent disclosure made by the state Office of Alcohol Testing regarding the accuracy of certain breathlyzers test, several district attorneys in the commonwealth, including Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe, have instructed their staff to refrain from introducing test results in cases. 

District Attorney O'Keefe released the following statement this week:

"In March we learned from the Office of Alcohol Testing of an issue with some breathalyzer tests. As a result we have had several meetings to ascertain the nature of the problem and are awaiting further information. In the meantime, 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. 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."

This week the Massachusetts Bar Association asked the State Attorney General's Office to conduct an investigation into reliability of breath tests. Martin W. Healy of the Massachusetts Bar Association told the Boston Globe, "We don' want to see people convicted and taking plea agreements based on faulty evidence.."

The Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) oversees the adminstration of breath tests in the state. According to their website, OAT maintains a list of established breath devices in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). OAT also certifies devices and has standardized calibration and training for public safety departments for the devices.

It is unknown how many breath tests may be involved or how many defendants may be affected.

There has yet to be a statement issued by State Attorney General Maura Healey's Office. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on