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Challenging Datamaster DMT Breath Tests in Minnesota DUI Cases

A police stop because of erratic driving or a traffic violation can often be followed by a breath test, based on the officer’s observations during the stop and field sobriety tests (FSTs).  Minnesota law enforcement uses the DataMaster DMT for DWI evidentiary breath testing.   In this blog, Minnesota DWI lawyers at Gerald Miller, P.A. provide an overview of the DataMaster DMT and grounds for challenging breath testing results.

Is the DataMaster DMT completely accurate?

It is important to note that there is a big difference between the Preliminary Breath Test commonly done on the roadside, and the DMT at the station.  Minnesota has been using the DataMaster DMT breath test device for several years because legal challenges swirled around the prior device, the Intoxilyzer 5000EN.

While the DataMaster DMT is considered more reliable than the Intoxilyzer 5000EN, the device is far from infallible.  The newer breath testing device is considered more advanced and has superior electronic functionality.  While advancement in the device’s software has made it more accurate, the accuracy of any breath testing device is limited by the way it is used and maintained.

If a law enforcement officer operates the device improperly, the results might be inaccurate. Additionally, like other scientific testing (namely blood and urine testing), the state cannot say with 100% certainty that a test result is actually what it indicates. They may have a certain level of confidence, but no test can be considered perfect.

For example, the operator must observe a mandatory 15-minute observation period before conducting the breath test to reduce the risk of false positive results caused by mouth alcohol. The officer might fail to observe the waiting period or cut the observation time short.  During the observation period, the officer is to ensure that the driver does not ingest anything, belch, vomit, regurgitate, or experience acid reflux.

Alcohol in the mouth that has not been metabolized by the body will have a higher blood alcohol concentration than breath from the deep lungs.  Mouth alcohol might incorrectly lead to the machine indicating a driver is over the legal limit of .08 percent.

Is the operator of the DataMaster DMT properly trained and certified?

The DataMaster DMT must be operated by a certified operator who has been properly trained.  Our Minnesota DWI attorneys always investigate to determine that the officer is certified to perform the functions associated with using the device and that the certification is current at the time of the test.

We also analyze whether the test was conducted in accordance with the operator’s training.  Our DWI defense lawyers have a close familiarity with the operator’s training manual which enables us to expose an officer’s failure to follow the rules regarding how the DataMaster DMT breath test much be performed.  When the testing procedures and protocols are not followed, our attorneys can argue the tests are unreliable, inaccurate, and invalid.

How can physical illness compromise the accuracy of breath test results?

In simple terms, the DataMaster DMT uses infrared spectroscopy, which involves the use of a beam of infrared light to determine an individual’s BAC because ethanol absorbs infrared light.  A sample is captured and enters a chamber where the ethanol molecules are vibrated.  The molecules absorb a substantial amount infrared light.  The device uses the amount of infrared energy that is absorbed to measure the ethanol in the bloodstream.

However, the calculation is based on certain assumptions, including a normal body temperature.  The person submitting to a DataMaster DMT breath test might have a fever.  Police officer’s making a DWI arrest do not determine a driver’s temperature though it can have a significant impact on breath testing results.  A common cold, the flu, or pneumonia can have a substantial impact on your DWI case.

Do You Need More Information?

If you have been arrested for DWI, we invite you to speak to a Minnesota DWI Lawyer at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible.  The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start protecting your rights.

Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

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