Articles Tagged with “breath test suppression”

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In Massachusetts, the crimes of OUI, DUI, and DWI are very serious criminal offenses, for which a conviction can severely impact your future. The official charge is Massachusetts is known as Operating Under the Influence (OUI), and any individual found to be operating a vehicle after having ingested any alcoholic beverage or chemical substance that impairs their ability to drive safely may be charged. In order to establish the requisite probable cause necessary to make an arrest, police officers use field sobriety tests, breath tests, blood tests and other tests to determine whether a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The use of Field Sobriety Tests has become an increasingly regular routine in the United States, as they allow police officers to make roadside determinations of intoxication. In the event that you refused field sobriety tests, a talented Boston, Massachusetts OUI attorney will be able to file what is known as a Motion in Limine to prohibit the introduction of a defendant’s refusal of field sobriety tests. With the help of your attorney, your refusal of field sobriety tests will be blocked from trial, poking a huge hole in the prosecution’s strongest piece of evidence. Under the current case law in this area, the refusal to submit to field sobriety testing is not admissible as evidence against the defendant. Commonwealth v. McGrail, Commonwealth v. Ranieri.

WHAT IS A MOTION IN LIMINE?
A motion in limine is a legal written request filed by an attorney at a pre-trial hearing requesting that the judge rule that certain testimony regarding evidence or information may be excluded from the trial. A Motion in Limine means that the admissibility determination will be held away from the eyes and ears of the jury in a private meeting before the judge. This distinction prevents the jury from being prejudiced against the defendant due to evidence of the test result. In OUI cases, the prosecution must prove that (1) the car was operated, (2) on a public way or area members of the public have a right of access to, and (3) the operator of the vehicle was under the influence of some intoxicant. Thus, without the evidence of a refusal to take a field sobriety test, the remaining evidence will generally fall short in proving that the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Similar to this motion is what is known as a Pierre Motion, which works to suppress the results of a breath test in OUI cases. In Commonwealth v. Pierre, the Court held that a breath test result is considered to be inadmissible at trial unless and until the Commonwealth proves the result’s admissibility by establishing compliance with breath test regulations. In the event that the administration of the test was not in compliance with State standards, the breath test result is not considered reliable evidence and therefore the test result will be barred from entered as evidence. Especially in OUI cases, having a smart and strategic OUI defense lawyer on your side can be hugely beneficial to the outcome of your case.

The most common field sobriety tests utilized by police officers are the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, alcohol breath test, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration permits field sobriety tests to be administered because they have found the results of these tests to be reliable indicators for distinguishing blood alcohol content beyond the legal limit for driving, assuming that the tests were administered in a standardized manner by a properly trained police officer. Thus, a motion in limine can be an extremely beneficial tool to suppress evidence that the defendant refused to take field sobriety tests. Tests such as these are usually the crucial piece of evidence in an OUI case, as without it, extraneous factors such as blood-shot eyes, swerving while driving, or even slurred words can be explained in many other ways.
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The use of Breathalyzer test instruments has become an increasingly regular routine in the United States, as they allow police officers to make roadside determinations of intoxication. The results from roadside administered breath testing machines provides evidence of the accused’s blood alcohol content, which is enough to constitute an arrest for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in Massachusetts under General Laws c. 90 s. 24. However, the use of breath testing machines, more commonly known as breathalyzers, in OUI cases is often contested due to the inefficiency and inaccuracy of the machine’s readings. The problem with the testing machines arises when the breath testing instruments give an incorrect read, face problems of inaccuracy, or a police officer makes a mistake administering the test or during the aftermath of the arrest. Because breath testing involves the analysis of microscopic amounts of alcohol it is critical that everything involving the breath test be done with precision and pursuant to established procedures–small variances in procedures can result in huge variances in results. In the event that the breath testing machine has given a false or inaccurate read, an experienced Boston, Massachusetts OUI attorney will be able to file what is known as a Pierre Motion, or a Motion in Limine to have the results of the breath test suppressed.

WHAT IS A PIERRE MOTION?
Established in 2008 in Commonwealth v. Pierre, the Court held that the Commonwealth must prove the admissibility of a breath test result before admitting said result into evidence at trial. A breath test result is considered to be inadmissible at trial unless and until the Commonwealth proves the result’s admissibility by establishing compliance with breath test regulations. Massachusetts requires a breath test to be administered in accordance with M.G.L. c. 90, §24K and 501 CMR 2.00. Both this law and regulation set forth the proper method for administering a breath test, and require the certification of breath testing machines and completed training courses for officers who wish to operate the devices.

According to 501 CMR 2.14, proper administration of a breath test requires four parts: (1) The arrestee’s consent to a breath test shall be documented by the arresting officer or the Breath Test Officer (BTO), 
(2) The breath test shall be administered by a certified BTO on a certified breath test device, 
(3) The breath test shall consist of a multipart sequence consisting of: (a) one adequate breath sample analysis; 
(b) one calibration standard analysis; and 
(c) a second adequate breath sample analysis, and (4) If the sequence does not result in breath samples that are within 0.02% blood alcohol content, the officer must re-administer a new testing sequence. A Pierre Motion is a preliminary motion that will determine whether the testing was appropriately administered. In the event that the administration of the test was not in compliance with M.G.L. c. 90, §24K and 501 CMR 2.00, the test result is not considered reliable evidence and therefore the test result will be barred from entered as evidence. The Pierre Motion is a Motion in Limine, which means that the admissibility determination will be held away from the eyes and ears of the jury in a private meeting before the judge. This distinction prevents the jury from being prejudiced against the defendant due to evidence of the test result.
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