27,000 Massachusetts Residents Could Have DUIs Overturned

Government / 12 Comments

A new ruling in the Supreme Judicial Court has provided a get-out-of-jail-free card, even to those who plead guilty.

The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts has ruled that roughly 27,000 people who were convicted or pled guilty to drunk driving can challenge those decisions in light of recent findings against the commonwealth, or in this case, the Massachusetts State Police Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT).

The case dates back to 2013 when Lindsey A. Hallinan pleaded guilty to drunk driving. In 2019, the Superior Court of Massachusetts found that "the annual calibration and certification methodology employed by OAT from June 2011 to September 14, 2014, did not produce scientifically reliable BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) results." The ruling does not say what Hallinan was driving, but according to Insurify, the share of drivers with the most DUIs on record belongs to the Acura NSX.

In light of these findings, Hallinan returned to the court to have her guilty plea overturned and succeeded, and thus established a new precedent in which nearly 30,000 people could do the same.


According to CBS News Boston, the Supreme Judicial Court found the government guilty of "egregious misconduct." It also ruled that all people tested by the BAC machine between June 1, 2011, and April 18, 2019, should be excluded from criminal prosecution.

The breathalyzer in question is called the Alcotest 9510, made by Draeger Safety Diagnostics. The 2019 ruling found that the machine produced accurate BAC results but that the annual calibration methodology was flawed. The court's ruling was quite scathing, stating that OAT had "a history of intentional withholding of exculpatory evidence, blatant disregard of court orders, and other misconduct."

CBS News Boston/YouTube

"The extensive nature of OAT's misconduct and the inability of the defendants in the consolidated cases challenging their liability of the Alcotest 9510 device has resulted in the violation of the right to due process for approximately 27,000 defendants," the court's ruling stated.

"The Office of Alcohol Testing in recent years has implemented significant operational improvements to ensure that breathalyzer certification, case management, discovery processes, and employee training are in accordance with all applicable laws and established forensic best practices. It is important to note that the OAT operating procedures described in today's decision predate those numerous and substantial reforms," Dave Procopio, a spokesperson for OAT said.

The Feds have been leaning on manufacturers for a while to find a way to combat drunk driving, but how long that will take is anyone's guess.


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