LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State Police say they have already restored 37 of the state’s 203 Datamaster DMT breathalyzers to service, and hope to have all of them back up and running by the end of February.
The state told law enforcement agencies on Monday to stop using those machines in drunken driving cases because of discrepancies in maintenance and certification by technicians for vendor Intoximeters.
MSP officers are now checking each of the machines, focusing on those that get the most use and those in areas where other options for determining blood alcohol content levels, like blood and urine tests, are not easily accessible. In West Michigan, the breathalyzers in Kent and Van Buren counties have already been checked and restored to service.
The state says it has so far found irregularities in how eight of the machines were serviced. One of those was the machine at the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office: On Thursday, MSP specified that a worker showed up to the department to check the machine on Aug. 23, 2019, but never filed any paperwork with Intoximeters or MSP. As a result, the Montcalm County Prosecutor’s Office had to throw out an operating while intoxicated case from that same day.
Later, MSP says, a technician didn’t notice when the breathalyzer at the Detroit Detention Center failed a test. As a result, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office had to dismiss evidence in six cases.
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Those problems don’t appear to be criminal in nature, but MSP is looking into whether others may have been.
MSP Director Col. Joe Gasper testified before the state Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on Thursday morning that his department’s criminal investigation was sparked by the discovery that one of the contractors ‘fabricated’ paperwork saying a certain test was performed on the machine at the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office even though it never was.
During his testimony, Gasper said the problems were being attributed to laziness, not malice.
That criminal investigation for possible forgery of public documents led MSP to cut off its $1.26 million maintenance contract with St. Louis-based Intoximeters on Jan. 7.
MSP plans to hire three officers who will be in charge of breathalyzer maintenance and and third-party scientist to review their testing.
The state is also working to get back some of its money from Intoximeters.