Massachusetts Appeals Court rejects challenge to breath test results based on the Office of Alcohol Testing not providing a manual for breath test machine

The Massachusetts Appeals Court in an unpublished decision ruled that the lack of an operator’s manual for the new breath test machine did not bar admission of the test results into evidence. The decision was an unreported decision. This decision has been anticipated for almost a year by Massachusetts OUI Lawyers as it was argued on June 5, 2014. The Court held that the power point presentation was sufficient as training for the officer and that the defendant did not claim that the officer lacked formal training to administer the breath test.

The Court held that the OAT was in compliance with the regulation and even assuming it was out of compliance the Court would not have suppressed the breath test result. The Appeals Court did not read the regulation pertaining to the breath test manual as requiring the Office of Alcohol Testing to create a manual.

The decision from the Appeals Court can be appealed to the SJC if the Court grants further review. The timing of this decision is interesting in light of the disclosure that some breath test machines were not properly calibrated. The Office of Alcohol Testing found that the error was caused by the fact that the officers were not trained to ensure that the calibration satisfies the Massachusetts standards. The Appeals Court’s decision essentially minimizing the significance of the regulation requiring that the Office of Alcohol Testing to prepare an operators manual is unfortunate given that this would have prevented unreliable test results from being admitted in numerous cases which caused the most recent controversy surrounding breath test results.

Given the difficulty I had in finding the full decision I have copied it below:

breath test manual decision.pdf

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