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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
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More Tainted Minnesota DUI Arrests?

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Hundreds of DUI related arrests in Minnesota may be tainted due to the accuracy of the new breath testing device used by the State of Minnesota. The Datamaster (hereinafter “DMT”) device was brought in by the State of Minnesota to replace the old Intoxilyzer 5000 EN, after criminal defense attorneys challenged the accuracy of thousands of test results from the old machine. Arguments were made to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the matter is currently under advisement. The testing accuracy of approximately 4000 DUI related cases hangs in the balance.

The DMT was supposed to clear up all the concerns with the Intoxilyzer 5000 EN and provide more accurate blood alcohol concentration readings. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, BCA, touted it as the “highest performing low cost device” of the machines they tested. The agency spent $1.7 million to replace the old Intoxilyzer machines. Unlike the Intoxilyzer 5000 EN that used only infrared technology, the DMT utilizes dual testing technology that includes infrared and fuel-cell technology to provide two readings of a driver’s blood alcohol concentration at once. The results are then calibrated by the machine and compared to each other. If the results are within a scientifically calibrated benchmark, the test is rejected. If the results are within the benchmark, the lower concentration is recorded.

However, last month, the BCA told law enforcement agencies it had shut off one of the testing methods, fuel-cell technology, until inconsistencies in the cells' durability are corrected. The Minnesota BCA claims there are concerns with the shelf life of the fuel-cells. John Fusco, whose company built the device, claims it’s not an issue with shelf life but rather issues with the use of fuel-cells, which require high amounts of humidity to work properly, in the dry winter months of Minnesota.

The BCA began switching to the DMT as part of what they term a scheduled replacement plan for the Intoxilyzer 5000 EN. The BCA denies on-going litigation had anything to do with the switch. The BCA began switching out the machines in the southern part of Minnesota first and this summer plans to complete the switch to rest of the state by the end of the summer.

Problems with the Intoxilyzer 5000 EN and DMT further demonstrate the need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney whenever you are charged with a DUI related offense.