25 Investigates: State investigation into breathalyzers faces delays

A state investigation into concerns about inaccurate breathalyzer tests has become caught up in delays, 25 Investigates has learned.

That means police across Massachusetts are still facing a shortage of the devices often needed to make a case against suspected drunken drivers.

Investigative Reporter Eric Rasmussen pressed the state for answers, but a spokesman could not say when the state’s investigation would be complete.

25 Investigates was the first to report last month about a state order that went out to police chiefs.

The letter dated Sept. 6 from Massachusetts Public Safety Secretary Dan Bennett said the shortage of breathalyzers was only expected to last three weeks.

It’s now been more than a month.

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In the September letter, Bennett ordered the state to keep breathalyzers that had been brought in for repairs or annual certification out of service during the investigation.

The order was a result of a state investigation into claims by defense attorneys that breathalyzers may have generated false results.

The order also means police departments that have their machines taken away must borrow them from neighboring departments.

Police in Massachusetts use a breathalyzer machine called the Alcotest 9510 to test suspected drunken drivers out on the roads.

Bennett has said there’s no reason to distrust those machines currently in use at police stations and has sought to assure the public that the machines are only being temporarily suspended out of an abundance of caution.

A state spokesman couldn’t give a specific reason why the investigation is taking longer than expected – other than investigators needed extra time to do a more thorough probe.

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