BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A Massachusetts district court judge has ruled that alcohol breath tests will continue to be excluded as evidence from most drunken driving cases until the state police’s troubled Office of Alcohol Testing is nationally accredited.
The Republican reported Wednesday that Judge Robert Brennan says the office must undergo major reforms, including providing additional training for staff and instituting rules for complying with discovery requests similar to those followed by the state police’s crime management unit.
The decision comes after a judge found the office failed to release evidence to lawyers representing drunken driving defendants that showed around 400 Breathalyzer results were flawed.
The technical leader of the office was fired, and prosecutors tossed evidence from thousands of drunken driving cases as a result.
“I think he is trying to restore confidence in the system,” said Tom Workman, an attorney who was a technical expert in the case.
The office plans to apply for national accreditation by August 2019.
Breathalyzer problems have put drunk driving cases in jeopardy for years in Massachusetts. Last summer, Judge Brennan accepted an agreement reached by all of the state’s district attorneys to stop using the results of potentially tainted tests as far back as 2011.
Back in 2015, several district attorneys said they were no longer using the test results because the accuracy of the breathalyzer machines was being called into question.
“If you exclude the breath test, all you have is the police officer’s observations,” Workman said.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)