State police: Breath alcohol devices back in service

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Michigan State Police said Thursday the 203 alcohol breath test devices it took out of action because of potential fraud are back in service.

"The 203 Datamaster DMT devices were certified for use at the end of January," state police said in a statement. "The criminal investigation is ongoing into two of the three employees contracted by the vendor to service, certify and recalibrate the devices.

A DataMaster DMT breath alcohol test instrument (right) sits next to a roadside preliminary breath test device before a Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee hearing in Lansing in January on issues with the device.

"As of this date, no charges have been filed and no further suspects or evidence of wrongdoing have been identified."

MoreMichigan State Police uncover 'potential fraud' with breath alcohol testing

State police officials said last month the agency suspended its contract with St. Louis-based Intoximeters Inc. after it found the company was falsifying records and misrepresenting when the devices were calibrated.

State police on Jan. 10 told law enforcement agencies statewide to stop using the devices because of the problems. It instructed them to rely solely on blood draws.

Metro Detroit defense attorney William Maze wasn't exactly happy to hear state police would be putting the machines back in service without any guarantees on past cases where they have been used. 

"The Michigan State Police is giving us all of these assurances that everything is good and copacetic with these machines," Maze said. "With this scandal, things have got to change."

In June, Maze filed a motion in Oakland County Circuit Court alleging there was fraud involved with the Datamaster machines. He asked the court to suppress Datamaster test results in a case involving a Dec. 16 drunken driving arrest by a state trooper.

Maze said Thursday he won a motion in a Brownstown Township district court to appeal a drunken driving conviction that was based on a test given with one of the devices.

The issues with the breath test machines were first noted on Jan. 2 when an audit found irregularities in a maintenance report from a DataMaster DMT instrument at the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office, according to officials. On Jan. 13, the agency noted other irregularities in instruments at the Beverly Hills, Pittsfield Township and Tecumseh police departments.

MoreMichigan State Police finds flaw in breath alcohol testing, suspends contract

In 2018, Intoximeters signed a three-year, $1.2 million contract to maintain, calibrate and repair the 215 Datamaster DMT units owned by state police. The contract, which expires Aug. 31, 2021, requires the company to certify each unit every 120 days.

Last month, Michigan State Police said they identified discrepancies in eight of the 203 breath alcohol testing devices used across the state, potentially affecting 52 suspected drunken driving cases.

More: State police: Problems found in 8 alcohol test machines, affecting 52 cases

Michigan State Police Spl/Lt. DuWayne Robinson at the agency's Fifth District headquarters said it is working to bring inspection, calibration and servicing of the devices in-house. He did not know what the time frame was for the transition,  he said.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez