Susan Belanger is really lucky and probably has a great lawyer. The 50 year old Pembroke, Massachusetts woman was arrested and charged with a Second Offense OUI. It was reported that cell phone callers observed Belanger driving erratically. The police were notified and observed some of Belanger’s driving pattern. She was followed to her home where she was confronted and ultimately arrested. She admitted to having only one glass of wine and was brought to the Pembroke Police Station where she requested a breathalyzer test. The machine was not working. Consequently she was taken to the Hanson Police Station but was not permitted to take a breathalyzer test there. A judge sitting in the Plymouth District Court ruled in her favor on a motion to suppress evidence obtained after her arrest. The motion was allowed. Now the district attorney will be limited to prosecute this case only with evidence that preceded the arrest.
Interestingly enough, Massachusetts Courts have ruled that G.L. c. 90 Section 24 by its terms does not confer the right to a breathalyzer test on someone arrested for driving under the influence. Rather, it provides protections if the police choose to administer a breathalyzer test. If one is not offered the prosecution loses its statutory presumptions of intoxication; the .08 or greater that can suggest impairment. Of course, if that is the case then there can be no license suspension for refusing or failing the breathalzyer test and a conviction will be more difficult to sustain. This would hold particularly true in this case where Belanger demanded a breathalyzer test.