Thousands DUI Cases Possibly Dismissed Over Invalid Breath Test Certificates

by baronedefensefirm on May 28, 2016

Dreager Breath Test Machine

In South Africa, the use of the Draeger breathalyzer machines in drunk driving cases has been suspended until further notice because of a “legal loophole caused by a certification problem with the machines,” according to the Cape Times (Eliseev).

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed that it had withdrawn all court cases that had not yet started and that relied on the machines’ readings. Now all drivers arrested for driving under the influence will be automatically taken for a blood draw. These test results can take up to a year and half to get back, where breathalyzer machine results were instantaneous.

A representative from the company who manufactures the machines, Draeger, said the recertification process can take several months to complete. In the meantime, the NPA has agreed to dismiss only those drunk driving cases which have yet to start, and will not dismiss those that have already been completed.

Some think the dismissals are politically motivated.  According to one source, “I find it difficult to believe that the move to invalidate the Dräger machine in the Western Cape was not an attempt by ANC-aligned elements in the National Prosecuting Authority to influence the outcome of the case against Mthembu.”  Mr. Mthembu is an African National Congress national spokesperson.

Here in the United States, Draeger issues the machines to individual states with a Certificate of Accuracy. (Evan M. Levow). While every state is responsible for accuracy checks on a regular basis, certain states, such as New Jersey, believe they simply need to calibrate the machines and do linearity checks. However this does not ensure the machines are in proper working order.

Michigan uses a breath test machine called a DataMaster, and is about to begin using the new DataMaster DMT.  Here is a video showing this new breath test machine.

During a routine drunk driving arrest in Michigan, the arresting officer will have the accused submit to a DataMaster test at the police station or, if the client refuses this first option, then a blood sample will be obtained.  So far, Michigan has not had the type of certification problems facing prosecutors in South Africa.

When researching which attorney to hire for a Michigan DUI/OWI charge, make sure the firm has an extensive background in breathalyzer machine training. There are certain details, such as the events that occurred in South Africa that can help you win your case.

Get a FREE confidential CASE EVALUATION on your Michigan OWI/OWVI/DUI by calling (248) 306-9159, or filling out this consultation request form. Call now, there’s no obligation!


This post was written by...

– who has written 203 posts on Michigan DUI and License Restoration Lawyers.

Patrick T. Barone is the author on two books on DUI defense including the well respected two volume treatise Defending Drinking Drivers (James Publishing), and The DUI Book – A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding DUI Litigation in America. He is also the author of a monthly DUI defense column for the Criminal Defense Newsletter, published by Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office. Mr. Barone is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he teaches Drunk Driving Law and Practice. He is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorney’s of Michigan’s Trial Lawyer’s College where he provides trial skills training to Michigan’s criminal defense practitioners. Mr. Barone lectures nationally on various DUI defense topics, and he has appeared in newspapers, on television and on radio as a drunk driving defense expert. Mr. Barone has been certified as an instructor and practitioner of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has also attended a 24-hour certification course at National Patent Analytical Corporation (the manufacturer of the DataMaster) and has thereby been deemed competent by the manufacturer to operate, perform essential diagnostic verifications and calibration checks on the DataMaster. Mr. Barone is a Sustaining Member of College for DUI Defense. Mr. Barone is the principal and founding member of The Barone Defense Firm, whose practice is limited exclusively to defending drinking drivers. The Firm is headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan.

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