Local police once again using breathalyzers after MSP investigation
State’s 203 alcohol breath test devices back in service
MECOSTA, OSCEOLA COUNTIES — Local police are once again using the state’s breathalyzer testing devices, Datamasters, after an investigation by the Michigan State Police into “potential fraud” committed by contracted employees.
According to reports from the Associated Press, the MSP launched a criminal investigation last month into employees of the Missouri-based Intoximeters Inc. and suspended its contract after evidence suggested the company falsified records and misrepresented the devices’ accuracy.
During the investigation, state police took all of the breath alcohol testing instruments out of service until further notice and recommended police agencies use blood draws to establish evidence of drunken driving.
The state’s 203 breathalyzers have now been certified and returned to service, the Associated Press stated.
Osceola County Sheriff Ed Williams said the county’s Datamaster was inspected and certified as of Jan. 19, and there were no issues found.
“It’s working as it always has,” he said.
The Associated Press reported MSP personnel said they found the technicians with Intoximeters Inc. were unable to maintain and certify the machines in a timely fashion, while incorrectly recording data from the tests and sharing password information with some jail staff in Aug. 2019.
These actions reportedly caused impaired driving cases in Montcalm and Wayne counties to be dismissed.
Although possible discrepancies were identified by police in several departments throughout the state, no agencies in Mecosta or Osceola counties were included in that list.
As of January, police identified eight machines and 52 cases with discrepancies in records.
MSP 1st Lt. Michael Shaw told the Associated Press no charges have been filed and no further suspects or problems with cases have been identified.
Locally, Williams said the suspended use of the Datamaster device did not have a significant impact on their investigations into drunken driving cases.
“It was for such a short period of time that it really didn’t cause any problems for us,” he said.