I’m Attorney Mike Contant. Did you know there’s a way to overturn your old drunk driving conviction? If you had a drunk driving offense between June of 2011 and April 17, 2019 and you took the breathalyzer test and that was a significant factor in your decision to take a plea or in the judge or jury finding you guilty at trial, you have the ability to get that overturned. Let me tell you why.
The Ananias litigation
A couple of years ago in Massachusetts, there was this litigation called the Ananias litigation. It challenged the admissibility of the breathalyzer test on a couple of different grounds. The first was the scientific reliability of the machine. The second was the way the machines were being calibrated and certified with the Office of Alcohol Testing.
Unfortunately, the judge found the machines were scientifically reliable. However, during the litigation, it came out that the way the machines were being calibrated and certified, as well as the way the Office of Alcohol Testing was maintaining their records and providing them in response to requests for information for cases going to trial was suspect.
The Judge’s Ruling
Therefore, the judge made a ruling that any breathalyzer tests during the period of June 2011 through April 17, 2017, should not be admitted as evidence at trial. You might ask, “Well, June 2011 is a long time ago. If I took the test back then, my case is long over. If I was found guilty, I’ve probably done my probation. Everything is all over with.
Why You Should Challenge Your Old Case Now
Why would you want to challenge that now? The reason is Melanie’s Law. Melanie’s Law, since 2005, made it so that any drunk driving offense you have, any conviction, is cumulative. In other words, there’s a lifetime lookback period.
Even if it was a first offense, if you were to ever, even 20 years from now, pick up another drunk driving offense, it becomes a second offense or a third offense or a fourth offense, with harsher penalties as you go on.
However, the Ananaias litigation said, “For this period of time, a breathalyzer test should not have been admitted.” And so if it was a significant factor in your decision to take a plea, or to take some sort of probation or anything else, or if it significantly affected the jury or judge in finding you guilty at trial, it shouldn’t have been admitted.
An Example Scenario
An example might be that it was a really high breathalyzer test, maybe it was .20 or .15, i.e., significantly over the legal limit, and there wasn’t a lot of other evidence to show that you had done it. Maybe you didn’t do the field sobriety test, or maybe you did but you didn’t do too badly.
In cases like this, it’s possible to show to the judge that the breathalyzer test was a significant factor in your decision or the jury’s decision of finding you guilty. A motion for a new trial can be filed on your behalf. It could take this into account. And many of these cases, because of their age and other factors, are not even being retried. Many of these cases are just being dismissed.
What You Should Do If You Meet The Criteria
In late February of 2020, it was widely publicized that the registry was going to have to send out more than 27,000 letters to people who were in this exact same situation. And regardless of whether you received a letter or not, if you meet these criteria, you may be subject to having your drunk driving conviction overturned and getting a new trial. You may have gotten the letter or you may have not gotten the letter if you meet these criteria.
Let’s say you took a breathalyzer test in Massachusetts between June 2011 and April 17, 2019 and it was a significant factor in either the judge or the jury’s decision of finding you guilty, or in your decision to take a plea. In that case, you may have the ability to get that drunk driving conviction, even if it was just an offense and not a conviction, overturned and get a new trial. You could possibly even get the case dismissed.
If you have any questions about this, about drunk driving, traffic offenses or anything like that, please feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call. I’d be happy to speak with you about it.