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Medical Reasons for Breath Test Refusals

Chemical Test Refusals

If the Registry of Motor Vehicles has suspended your license because of an alleged breathalyzer refusal, you have the right to appeal the suspension within 15 days, pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24(1)(g). If the Registry finds in your favor, after conducting a Chemical Test Refusal (CTR) hearing, the suspension will be terminated and your license will be promptly reinstated without a fee. If the Registry denies the breathalyzer refusal suspension appeal, you have the right to appeal further to District Court.

For various medical reasons, some people are unable to supply the air sample required by the Drager Alcotest 9510, which is the breathalyzer used by all local Massachusetts Police Departments as well as the Massachusetts State Police. This device is designed to measure deep lung air and it requires the test subject to blow at or above a certain pressure for a substantial amount of time. Also, the Massachusetts Breath Testing Regulations require two adequate breath samples to constitute a valid breath test. The failure to supply the requisite two adequate breath samples will be construed as a breathalyzer refusal and this will result in a license suspension for 180 days up to life.

However, there are various medical conditions which might prevent a person from providing two (2) adequate breath samples which the breathalyzer requires. For example, conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or certain anxiety and panic disorders might prevent a person from completing a breath test, no matter how hard they try. Legitimate documented medical reasons which render a person unable to submit to a breathalyzer test can be used to reverse a chemical test refusal suspension in Massachusetts.

A person who suffers from a medical condition which would prevent him or her from providing two adequate breath samples upon request should not be deemed to have refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. A specific documented medical opinion regarding the individual’s inability to complete the breath test on the date in question can be grounds to reverse a refusal suspension.

Medical documentation is necessary because some people agree to take the breath test and then they will intentionally not produce a sufficient breath sample. They will not blow long or hard enough to satisfy the breathalyzer. These are considered “constructive refusals.”

If you have lost your license due to your inability to complete a breath test in Massachusetts due to medical reasons, you should appeal your suspension.

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