More than 4,700 YES defendants in Worcester County may be eligible for a new trial due to breathing test evidence issues

Worcester County defendants accused of operating under the influence of alcohol on the basis of breath tests performed over the past decade may be eligible for new trials, the Worcester district attorney said on Wednesday, Joseph D. Early Jr.

More than 4,700 defendants in Worcester County will receive letters by mail alerting them to the possibility of having their case reconsidered due to “problems with Breathalyzer’s evidence,” Early said.

Breath tests between 2011 and 2018 used in criminal trials were ruled inadmissible in a decision of the North West District Attorney announced Monday. Letters from the Magistrate’s Court were sent to IOHE defendants in Worcester County this week, officials said.

Notices will also be sent to approximately 3,100 residents of Hampshire and Franklin counties convicted between June 2011 and April 2019 of driving under the influence of alcohol. The Hampden District Attorney is also alerting around 2,133 people, and in Berkshire another 900 will be notified.

Statewide, there are around 27,000 defendants who may be eligible to challenge their convictions, officials said.

In 2019, the courts found that the Draeger 9510 Alcotest, used by state and local police, had been improperly calibrated over a period of several years and produced unreliable results. The problem was exacerbated after it was discovered that the state’s Bureau of Blood Alcohol Testing had tried to hide the full extent of the problem, according to Massachusetts District Court Judge Robert Brennan.

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