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"But the testing will determine how widespread the issue is or if there even is an issue."He said law enforcement officers rely on evidence other than blood-alcohol tests, such as observation and field sobriety tests, to determine if a motorist is impaired.
The legal limit in Massachusetts is a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 for adults - or 0.02 for drivers under 21.
In March, the Office of Alcohol Testing, which certifies the results of blood alcohol tests given throughout the state, sent a letter to district attorneys with a list of cases where the calibration of the machines fell below levels required by law.
At least in the Suffolk County cases, Wark said, calibration tests of the machines gave readings that met the manufacturer's guidelines but fell outside stricter limits required by the state.
In Essex County, at least five cases dating as far back as 2011 have been identified as possibly being affected.
Prosecutors in Middlesex and Suffolk counties have identified another dozen cases that could be affected.
Motorists suspected of driving under the influence can refuse to take a blood-alcohol test, but that results in an automatic suspension of a driver's license.
Panagiotes said blood-alcohol tests weigh heavily in DUI cases, often resulting in a guilty verdict."Most jurors think Breathalyzers are infallible, so defendants are essentially tried by machine," he said.
Numerous problems could produce false results in a blood-alcohol test, said Peter Elikann, a Boston criminal defense attorney and vice chairman of the Massachusetts Bar Association's Criminal Justice Council.The state agencies are reviewing DUI cases dating back years for evidence of questionable results, according to state officials.