Worcester District Attorney will be sending more than 4,700 letters to Worcester County residents who may be entitled to a new trial after the results of breath tests used in their drunken driving (DUI OUI) cases between the years 2011 and 2018 were deemed unreliable.
Anyone who receives this letter should consult a lawyer to help them decide how best to proceed. The letter contains details about the collateral damage that a guilty finding might have had on some of the defendants and the potential to request a new trial.
If you were found guilty, entered into a plea agreement or whose cases were continued without a finding with regards to charges of operating under the influence of alcohol in Worcester County between the years of 2011-2018, please call our office to speak with our defense attorneys regarding a new trial.
Thousands convicted of DUI, many in Central Mass., could get new trials
By Kim Ring – Telegram & Gazette
Letters are being sent to 27,000 defendants across the state, including more than 4,700 in Worcester County, who may be entitled to a new trial after the results of breath tests used in their drunken driving cases were deemed unreliable.
The letters are the result of legal challenges in 2017 that ended with a decision from Judge Robert Brennan in which he ruled that the Alcotest 9510 breath testing machine’s results couldn’t be used in court.
Brennan found that annual calibration and certification methodology used by the Office of Alcohol Testing between June 2011 and September 2014 was deficient and ruled that breath test results would not be allowed back into evidence until the Office of Alcohol Testing implemented reliable methods to calibrate and certify. The ban lasted until the Office of Alcohol Testing was accredited in 2019.
This week, letters are being sent to drivers who were found guilty, entered into a plea agreement or whose cases were continued without a finding with regards to charges of operating under the influence of alcohol. The cases span 2011-2018, officials said.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said his office will be sending information to the media this week just in case some of those who should be receiving the letters have changed their addresses or missed the correspondence in the mail.
While many folks will receive the letters, not all will benefit from having new trial, Worcester defense attorney Mark L. Monopoli said.
If the results of the breath test were only part of a larger pool of evidence against the defendant, the results of a new trial might not change, he said.
And one should also weigh whether a different verdict would make a big impact in their life.
“A lot of these people have been off probation and have had their licenses back for years,” Monopoli said.
In cases where a person held a commercial driver’s license that was forfeited and their livelihood impacted as a result of a guilty verdict, a new trial might help get that license reinstated, Monopoli said.
Early said that while he can’t offer legal advice, he would recommend that anyone who receives a letter consult a lawyer to help them decide how best to proceed. He said the letter has details about the collateral damage that a guilty finding might have had on some of the defendants.
“It could affect their right to drive, their housing and immigration (issues),” he said. “It can’t hurt to talk to a lawyer.”
Retrying cases that may be a decade old could present some challenges in addition to the obvious backlog that would be created if a good portion of the defendants seek new trials, Early said.
There may be difficulties finding witnesses: police officers may be retired, witnesses may have moved away and the District Attorney’s office would have to weigh the gravity of the case and the costs associated with bringing in witnesses from a distance, Early said.
“It will be on a case by case basis,” he said, adding that factors like whether people were injured or where defendants have several prior convictions will be considered.
In Western Massachusetts, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office said about 3,100 persons who were convicted of operating under the influence of alcohol between 2011 and 2018, are being notified. That office prosecutes cases in Hampshire and Franklin Counties along with the Worcester County town of Athol.