The DataMaster is one method of testing blood alcohol count (BAC) used by law enforcement in Michigan. The DataMaster measures BAC by testing the breath of the driver by using infrared light to gauge the presence of alcohol. The molecules of alcohol respond to the infrared light and allow for the driver’s BAC to be measured. The device not only determines whether alcohol is present, but also their real-time alcohol absorption curve and stores the results for future legal use.
What Makes the DataMaster Unique?
While the other method of measuring BAC — the Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) — is used pre-arrest, often on the side of the road, the DataMaster is used after the arrest and is administered at a police station. PBT is used as probable cause for the arrest but is not admissible in court. The DataMaster, however, is scientifically reliable and can be used as evidence in court.
Possible Inaccuracies with the DataMaster
Even though the DataMaster is a more reliable method of measuring BAC, there are some ways that the accuracy of the device can be challenged in court. One of the features of the DataMaster is that each state that uses the device can customize settings.
For the state of Michigan, one of the settings that has been customized is the 15 minute safeguard for testing. When administering the DataMaster test, there must be a 15 minute window before testing the driver. This window of time ensures that the driver has not smoked, eaten, or drunk anything before taking the test. The DataMaster has a lock that prevents the officer from administering the test within that 15 minutes, which increases the accuracy of that test.
In Michigan, though, this 15 minute lock is disabled and officers are trusted to follow through with the waiting period without relying on the device to indicate that it was actually observed. This oversight and other gaps in training and procedure can influence the results of the DataMaster.
In addition to the 15 minute waiting period, there are other factors that can influence the reliability of the DataMaster. Some of these factors include medical conditions, recent dental work, and elevated body temperature. These factors can cause the test detect a level that is higher than the driver’s actual BAC. While the DataMaster is considered to be scientifically accurate, it still runs the risk of these interfering factors. Therefore, it is not foolproof and its results can be challenged.
Challenging DataMaster Results
When facing the results of the DataMaster in court, challenging whether the 15 minute waiting period was observed is a good place to start. Activities like eating, drinking, or smoking can interfere with the device’s ability to measure BAC and can influence the results, so take note of your activities just prior to the test. Also, you need to be aware of other factors — such as medical conditions or other substances — that could have played a part in the DataMaster’s results.
To make your OWI defense stronger and to ensure all possible defense strategies or arguments are being considered, work with Patrick S. Fragel, Attorney at Law, P.C. Our Traverse City law firm practices criminal defense with a focus on standing up for drivers who have been accused of drunk driving. With 25 years of trial experience, including years spent as a former prosecutor, Attorney Fragel is here to help you!
Call or contact our law firm online now to begin your OWI defense case.