Thousands of Flawed Breathalyzers Caused False OUI Convictions

When former chemist Annie Dookhan was convicted of tampering more than 20,000 lab samples in her time at Hinton State Laboratory, it shook the state of Massachusetts. Because of one individual’s contempt for the law, thousands of defendants’ lives were ruined by unjustified drug convictions. Thankfully, the use of Dookhan motions allowed justice to prevail in some cases, and our Boston drug crimes attorneys have personally helped to file many life-saving dismissals of false drug convictions.

But tragically, there is another drug crimes scandal brewing that could surpass even the Annie Dookhan debacle. New evidence shows the Massachusetts Office of Alcohol Testing may have withheld the fact that more than 35,000 state breathalyzer tests were inaccurate – and continued to admit faulty breathalyzer results as evidence for OUI convictions anyway. While the matter is still under investigation, if the reports are true, then it represents one of the worst miscarriages of justice since Annie Dookhan. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the ramifications of this finding, and show you can restore your future if you’ve received a Massachusetts OUI conviction after 2011.

False Breathalyzer Tests Used as Evidence in Drug Cases

In August, more than 750 drunk-driving defendants worked with a Spingfield defense lawyer to file a motion against the Office of Alcohol Testing. In this motion, they claimed the state agency knew about the inaccuracy of their breathalyzer tests, and officials were aware their devices continually failed inspections. However, the agency did nothing to inform the public or dismiss past convictions. According to the reports, district attorneys and judges have suspected that these breathalyzer tests were inaccurate since 2015, and many fought to suspend their use in drunk-driving cases. The ramifications of this finding are incredibly serious, and some estimates indicate more than 58,000 cases between the years of 2011 and 2017 could be re-opened.

Why Is Evidence Tampering So Pervasive in Drug Crimes Cases?

Although evidence tampering is a serious crime in itself, many drug crimes cases both small and large routinely suffer from this miscarriage of justice. More than any other area of the law, drug crimes hinge on chemical detection methods. This is especially true in the case of an OUI conviction. Given that field sobriety tests and eyewitness accounts can be extremely unreliable, most prosecutors prefer to rely on the hard numeric data of a breathalyzer test to prove their case. This means that prosecutors and government agencies have a strong incentive to either falsify evidence, or hide the fact that their methods were inaccurate. Unfortunately, in this case, it would appear that the Office of Alcohol Testing may have done just that.

How to Seek Justice If You’ve Been Unfairly Convicted

If you’ve been unfairly convicted of an OUI in Massachusetts, there’s still hope for justice. If you were convicted after 2011, your case could be one of the over 58,000 currently subject to review and appeal. Our Boston criminal defense lawyers are intimately familiar with the post-conviction relief process, and we believe that the willful admission of improper evidence must be stopped in its tracks. Counting 35 years of trial experience and multiple major awards, Brad Bailey Law has a reputation for getting justice in criminal defense cases, particularly when chemical evidence has been mishandled.

If you need to appeal your drug crimes conviction, don’t hesitate to contact our Boston drug crimes attorneys at (617) 500-0252 today. You can also schedule an appointment online.

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