“Will I make hay with all of this? You bet I will,” Sheridan said regarding an error by the engineers of the DataMaster DMT-G devices. According to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), there are inconsistencies with the shelf life of the fuel cells on the DataMasters, which could mean there are significant issues with the DataMasters themselves as well as their breath alcohol test results. The BCA has stopped law enforcement agencies from using the fuel-cell technology when operating the DataMasters.
National Patent Analytical Systems, a company in Mansfield, Ohio, created the DataMasters. Unlike other breath test machines, DataMasters use two separate technologies to test drivers’ breath alcohol limits (BAC). The devices take two BAC readings with the same breath — one using fuel-cell technology and one using the more common infrared technology. National Patent Analytical Systems states that they were not proponents of the devices because it was challenging to combine the two technologies.
The potential legal challenges to the DataMaster come after extensive litigation over another device used by the BCA — the Intoxilyzer. In fact, the DataMaster was meant to replace the Intoxilyzer 5000EN as the breath test used for suspects once they arrive at the police station.
According to Sheridan, there are more than just technological problems with the DataMaster. The BCA only gave its officers six hours of training on the complicated device. Attorney Sheridan recently cross-examined an officer who clearly lacked even basic competency with the machine even though the BCA “certified” him after receiving their “training.”
Since its purchase by the BCA, law enforcement agencies in Minnesota have used the DataMaster for more than 2,500 breath tests. Any number of these arrests and the convictions tied to the arrests could be thrown out if courts find that the tests were inaccurate.