Only last year we were blogging about problems with the Intoxilzer 5000EN and the ongoing legal battle involving 4000 Minnesota DWI cases. Well, now some are asserting a significant problem may exist with the new Datamasater DMT-G breath test machine arguing hundreds of recent Minnesota arrests for drunk driving may be tainted due to a flaw in the new device.
A Refresher on the DataMaster
The new breath test machine was designed to both increase the accuracy of breath test results as well as help police officers streamline the booking process. The DataMaster DMT-G measures a driver’s breath blood-alcohol content in two ways, through fuel-cell technology and through infrared technology. The Intoxilyzer 5000EN, the old breath-test device, made use of only infrared technology.
Like the Intoxilyzer, the DataMaster tests DWI suspects once brought to the police station. A different machine is used to take a preliminary breath test when a driver is stopped initially. Only the evidentiary breath test performed at the station can be considered admissible as basis to charge an individual for DWI.
DataMaster Inconsistencies Discovered
Last month, however, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or BCA ordered law enforcement agencies to switch off one of the device’s methods (the fuel cell method). Their issue with the fuel cell had nothing to do with its accuracy, but instead, with its inconsistent shelf life.
A fellow Minnesota DWI lawyer argued that with inconsistent readings, the door is open for doubt with regard to recent DWI charges. Another defense attorney involved in DWI cases also raised concerns that the DataMaster was hurriedly rushed into the field, and that the six-hour training provided to law enforcement officers was inadequate, especially since no manual was provided to them afterwards.
DataMaster Rollouts Continue
The BCA, however, states that DataMaster training for law enforcement officers will continue, as will deployment of the machine. Device rollouts have been completed in the southern half of the state, and will continue throughout the Twin Cities and the rest of Minnesota over the summer. The BCA is quick to point out that the DataMaster infrared technology test is working fine, and is still a very reliable and proven way to identify impaired driving. The BCA spent approximately $1.7 million on 280 DataMaster DMT-G devices.
Despite the fuel-cell difficulties, the BCA still believes the DataMaster to be far superior to the Intoxilyzer due to the fact that it gives real-time results, and is compatible with technology that allows information to be filed electronically.
No Breath Test Machine Is Perfect
Regardless what one makes of the above argument on both sides of the table, it must be remembered that no breath testing device is 100% perfect. For this and potentially other reasons, if you ever get charged with DWI in Minnesota you should immediately contact an experienced DWI attorney. Douglas T. Kans of Kans Law Firm, LLC has been defending DWI charges for over 17 years and can be reached at (952) 835-6314 or (888) 972-6060