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The Breath Alcohol Debacle in Massachusetts: Uncovering Withheld Evidence

27,000 breath alcohol tests in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were called into question due to poor laboratory practices and the Office of Alcohol Testing withholding exculpatory information.

Attorney Joseph Bernard discusses the breath testing debacle that occurred in Massachusetts, where nearly 27,000 breath tests were thrown out. He shares insights from the Commonwealth vs. Ananias case, which began nine years ago and uncovered significant issues with breath testing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Bernard explains how the tolerance ranges for the control test run with each breath alcohol test weren’t programmed correctly. This caused the instrument to fail to alert the operator when the control was out of tolerance.

He also discusses the Office of Alcohol Testing's discovery of missing protocols and its intentional withholding of exculpatory evidence.

About the Guest

Joseph Bernard is an attorney based in Massachusetts. He’s developed a passion for cases involving breath testing. He has worked tirelessly to improve law enforcement's transparency in the state of Massachusetts.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Commonwealth vs. Ananias case revealed major issues with breath alcohol testing in Massachusetts, leading to nearly 27,000 breath tests being dismissed.

  • The Draeger 9510, the only breath testing machine used in Massachusetts, had control tolerance ranges that would not alert the operator to errors.

  • The discovery of missing protocols and the intentional withholding of exculpatory evidence by the Office of Alcohol Testing raised serious concerns about transparency and reliability.

  • The case highlighted the need for improved calibration, maintenance, and care of breath testing instruments to ensure accurate and reliable results.

  • The Ananias Agreement, signed by every district attorney in Massachusetts, acknowledged the intentional and unjustifiable withholding of exculpatory evidence and implemented remedial measures to address the issues.

Notable Quotes:

  • "We've made a lot of progress. I think we have a long way to go, but certainly a great deal of improvement here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regarding breath testing." - Joseph Bernard

  • "There was a very unhealthy, dishonest culture in the Office of Alcohol testing that almost condoned hiding things." - Joseph Bernard

Resources:

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