Michigan Police: Breathalyzer Tests Flawed, Stop Order Issued

(WWJ) State police officials are alerting law enforcement agencies about problems with breath alcohol testing devices used by many police departments.

A January 10th letter to police and prosecutors statewide indicates that a stop-order has been placed on the current vendor’s contract due to "performance-related issues."

The problems involve the Datamaster DMT breathalyzer device, though the exact issue is known.

Officials say the devices will continue being used, but they'll calibrated by the Michigan State Police, not the vendor. 

Royal Oak defense attorney Barton Morris told WWJ's Charlie Langton that anyone recently convicted of a DUI may want to place a call to the prosecutor's office.

"Anybody that we have a pending case or even a previously resolved case should communicate with their local prosecutor to see if they received information or notice about whether those breath instruments were affected." 

Other evidence may be needed to secure a drunken driving conviction for anyone whose Breathalyzer was done with this device, Langton said.

According to a New York Times investigation a little over a month ago, the tests are often unreliable.

"Judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey have thrown out more than 30,000 breath tests in the past 12 months alone, largely because of human errors and lax governmental oversight," The Times report found. "Across the country, thousands of other tests also have been invalidated in recent years.

"The machines are sensitive scientific instruments, and in many cases they haven’t been properly calibrated, yielding results that were at times 40 percent too high."