"At this point as precaution we are taking all 203 Datamasters instruments out of service until they can be calibrated and tested by Michigan State Police personnel from Lansing".
An unusual setback for drunk driving enforcement in MI has a new twist.
Based on new information learned over the weekend, the Michigan State Police (MSP) is aggressively investigating potential fraud committed by contract employees of Datamaster vendor, Intoximeters, and also moving today to take all 203 Datamaster DMT evidential breath alcohol testing instruments out of service until MSP can inspect and verify each instrument to ensure it is properly calibrated. The MSP is investigating potential fraud. This was due to how some instruments were being serviced.
The Datamaster DMT evidential breath alcohol testing instrument is not to be confused with the preliminary breath test, or PBT, which is the initial handheld, roadside instrument used by a police officer, according to Manager of the MSP Public Affairs Section, Shanon Banner.
Defense attorneys for accused drunk drivers aren't the only ones questioning whether breath alcohol testing devices are reliable. "We are now reviewing any irregularities [with our devices], and will notify any prosecutors that may be affected", wrote Maj.
Oakland University criminal justice professor Daniel Kennedy said such issues with the breathalyzer devices could be troublesome for drunken driving cases in MI.
MI state police are questioning the reliability of test results produced by breathalyzer machines used across the state. MI owns 215, and signed a $1.2-million contract to maintain, fix and calibrate them for three years through August 2021. It has not now been said what the exact issues with the device are. Calbrations were required every four months under Michigan's contract.
Police say that as of January 7th, a stop order has been issued towards a contract with a breathalyzer manufacturer. County prosecutors in the areas with possible discrepancies will determine the potential impact on drunk driving cases. "This was just discovered, and we will be working to determine what occurred with the vendor". However, the PBT can not be introduced in court as evidence of impaired driving.
"Upon learning of additional and more egregious discrepancies, I am no longer comfortable having police agencies using these instruments until we can be confident they are certified, calibrated and serviced according to state law and industry standard", Gasper says.
To be clear, drunk-driving prosecutions with evidence that includes blood samples are not affected.