Can You Beat a OWI DUI Breath Test in Michigan?

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Can You Beat a OWI DUI Breath Test in Michigan?

Under Michigan Implied Consent Laws, the driver of a motor vehicle who has been arrested for suspected drunk driving is required to submit to an evidential test at the request of a police officer.  This test is a breath, blood or urine test to determine the amount of alcohol in his or her blood (BAC) or breath (BrAC). While blood draws are becoming increasingly prevalent, most DUI suspects are asked to take an OWI DUI breath test.

In Michigan, the police use a device called a DataMaster or DataMaster DMT to measure a suspect’s BrAC. So how does this “breath testing gizmo” work and are the test results reliable? And the question on the minds of most DUI suspects: “Can you beat a OWI DUI breath test?” Well, understanding the answers to those questions begins with a working knowledge of how the device works.

How Does the DataMaster Work?

Both the DataMaster and DataMaster DMT use “infrared spectroscopy” to measure an individual’s BrAC. The simplest explanation of how the devices work is this: the test subject blows air into a mouthpiece that is attached to a tube that, in turn, is connected to the device. The breath sample is captured in sample chamber. A known amount of infrared light is directed through the sample chamber. Alcohol (ethanol) absorbs infrared light at certain wavelengths. The remaining energy that escapes absorption is quantified by a detector board. The overall loss of energy is calculated and the device’s internal software program generates the BrAC.

The DataMaster DMT

The Datamaster has been used in Michigan by police agencies since 1995 for OWI DUI breath tests. Beginning several years ago, the DataMaster DMT began appearing in police departments throughout the state.

According to the manufacturer’s literature, the DMT’s interface uses 32-bit, 520 MHz processor with full-color graphic touch screen and efficient sampling system. Data is entered by the operator through a keyboard. The machine is equipped with dynamically-designed modular instrument software which is adaptable to virtually all of specifications of the various police agencies.

Michigan and all of the other states using the DMT are free to pick and choose between which of the machine’s capabilities they wish to have enabled. Unfortunately, the “powers that be” at the Michigan State Police have elected to “turn off” some of the important DMT functions and capabilities such as a realtime charting and graphing of a testing subject’s breath flow.

Beating the DataMaster DMT

The DataMaster DMT has been touted as a significant improvement over its predecessor. However, the DMT, like all BrAC testing devices, is to some extent based upon flawed science. Consequently, an experienced Michigan DUI lawyer can effectively challenge the results of any OWI DUI breath test; even on the new DMT.

The reliability of the DataMaster DMT, as with all similar devices, requires that it be properly maintained and calibrated. State administrative regulations require police to follow specific testing protocols for accuracy checks and to maintain testing logs and supporting documentation. Failure to maintain such records and logs may give rise to a basis to challenge the reliability of the machine.

A top rated Michigan DUI attorney will also look at the DMT result within the context of his client’s medical history. There are many medical conditions which can cause the DataMaster DMT, or any breath testing device for that matter to generate an inaccurate and unreliable result. For example, a driver charged with DUI with a medical history of digestive or respiratory disorders may be able to successfully challenge and “beat the OWI DUI breath test”!

Moreover, infrared light absorbs not only ethanol from the breath sample, but acetone as well. Medical literature verifies that acetone is present in diabetic patients and, therefore, the DMT could, theoretically read acetone as ethanol. The DMT may not accurately differentiate between the ethanol and the acetone in a given subject. Indeed, if the DMT detects ethanol in a breath sample, it does not have the capability to determine whether it originated from the oral cavity, lungs or stomach.

Consequently, a person suffering from periodontal disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), may produce a contaminated breath sample that is mistakenly read by the machine as originated in the lungs. Similarly, an elevated body temperature in a subject during the breath test can result in an inflated and, thus, inaccurate and unreliable BrAC.

The Bottom Line

There are a variety of approaches to successfully challenging the BrAC OWI DUI breath test result from the the DataMaster DMT and an experienced Michigan DUI lawyer such as Edward Earl Duke has the knowledge, and expertise to use them to a client’s best advantage.

So, if you have been charged with a DUI in Michigan, contact Duke Law Group to speak to Attorney Duke personally at (248) 409-0484 for a Free Consultation regarding the specifics of your case.

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