Maine Legal Group Logo
Main Office
Satellite Office
Consultations by Appointment Only

Poorly-Calibrated Breath Test Machines Throw Thousands of Massachusetts Cases into Doubt

A police officer performing a breath test to a woman in a silver car, representing how one can benefit from calling a Portland criminal defense lawyer.

If you get pulled over by a police officer in Maine who suspects you’re operating under the influence (OUI), you’ll be asked to take a breathalyzer test right on the spot. If you then get brought into the police station, you’ll often be requested to take another breath test there.

If you go through this process, one thing that you might find striking is how differently the two breathalyzer machines look. The one that the police officer has at the side of the road is a hand-held device that, when you stop and look closely, seems kind of cheap. The one in the police station, on the other hand, is larger, stationary, and looks like it may be more accurate.

Unfortunately for many people who were charged and previously pled guilty in Massachusetts, that is not always the case.

Massachusetts Breath Testing Machines Improperly Calibrated

A crucially important aspect of a breath testing machine is that it can, under optimal conditions, accurately detect how much alcohol is on your breath. If it can’t, it’s worse than useless – it’s dangerous. A breathalyzer that spits out incorrect readings puts innocent people into serious legal trouble.

However, breath testing machines – even the more precise ones in police stations – don’t recognize how to measure alcohol in a breath sample on their own: They need to be calibrated properly in order to produce accurate results. If they’re not calibrated properly, all of the machine’s readings will be skewed.

In Massachusetts, the department in charge of maintaining the breath testing machines was the Office of Alcohol Testing. However, a Massachusetts state court recently found that, until the year 2014, the Office had no solid policies for testing or calibrating a breathalyzer in the state. Instead, the procedures for calibrating and administering the tests on the 392 breathalyzers in the state of Massachusetts were being passed through the Office of Alcohol Testing via word of mouth or during informal meetings.

Potentially Thousands of Cases Impacted

As a result, the court determined that, between June 2012 and September 2014, the state of Massachusetts failed to show that it had a reliable way of determining someone’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The case that started it all – which had grown to include no fewer than 535 OUI cases – is a huge shakeup in Massachusetts. Not only will this send those 535 cases back to court – where they’ll be retried and where the prosecutor will have to prove the breath test used in the case was accurate – it would also put up to 20,000 other OUI cases from that time period into doubt.

So far, the state of Massachusetts hasn’t determined what they’ll do with those cases.

Maine OUI-Defense Attorney William T. Bly

These kinds of inaccuracies with testing machines are difficult to spot, and are more common than you might think. Having OUI-defense attorney William T. Bly at your side is the best way to avoid being wrongfully convicted because of one of these mistakes. Contact his law office online or at (207) 571-8146 if you’ve been charged for OUI in the state of Maine.


Contact our office to speak with
one of our team members who will set up a confidential consultation to discuss your case.


Great group of people. Managed to get me a favorable outcome from a very bad situation. I would highly recommend this firm if you have legal troubles. Top notch performance!!

Dave Allen

So thankful I chose this team to represent me. They’re the best, hands down. Nathan Hitchcock proved my innocence not once but TWICE, including a trial by jury. I have a family in law enforcement who told me “Bill Bly and his team are the best. If I would recommend anyone, it would be them.”

Brandon Albert





Ready to Get Started? Get In Touch With Us Today!

If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Get to Know Our Group
Maine Legal Group

We are a boutique law firm, and we stand out by prioritizing our clients’ well-being. At The Maine Legal Group, our experienced team offers personalized attention in both criminal defense and divorce cases.

The Maine Criminal Defense Group

The Maine Criminal Defense Group adeptly handles all areas of criminal defense practice, including experienced and skilled legal representation for state and federal charges.

The Maine Divorce Group

The Maine Divorce Group empowers individuals skillfully navigating divorce with compassionate guidance, ensuring a brighter future through the challenges of the process.