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Breathalyzer Results Could Be Thrown Out In More Than 35,000 Mass. Cases

In a proposed agreement with defense attorneys over the reliability of state breathalyzer equipment, district attorneys in Massachusetts say they will not present evidence from breath tests in what attorneys estimate is more than 35,000 drunk-driving cases.

With the exception of cases involving death or serious injury, prosecutors will exclude breath test evidence in outstanding cases from 2011 to 2017, according to a joint stipulation filed in court by defense attorneys and the district attorneys. The move follows the discovery that the Office of Alcohol Testing, part of the state crime lab, withheld evidence that some devices that measure alcohol intoxication through breath tests failed annual inspections.

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Vincent DeMore said Tuesday that the proposed agreement requires the Office of Alcohol Testing to become accredited and should resolve concerns about the accuracy of testing equipment.

"I think far from it being a situation that should shake the confidence of the public, it should be an area where we should have greater confidence in the reliability of the instrument," he said.

A judge still has to sign off on the agreement.

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