Lawyer says Minnesota’s new DWI breath tests are flawed - Fox 2 News Headlines

Lawyer says Minnesota’s new DWI breath tests are flawed

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A Minnesota lawyer who makes a living fighting DWI charges says there is a problem with the new breath tests the state is rolling out for police officers.

Chuck Ramsay is part of the legal battle that got the state to drop the old Intoxilyzer 5000 tests, putting about four thousand cases on hold as a result.

Olmsted County started testing the new DataMaster in March, but they weren't alone. Ramsay started testing them as well.

"I went to the manufacturer's course in Mansfield, Ohio," said Ramsay. "So, I'm not only a certified operator, but a certified supervisor."

The new system, which also helps officers streamline the booking process, centers around measuring someone's breath in two ways -- through infra-red technology and fuel cell technology.

The old Intoxilyzer used infra-red technology only.

"The issue is: The BCA pushed for this fuel cell. They paid more for it, they said they needed it because the DataMaster wasn't good enough without it, and now they have disabled it," Ramsay said.

The BCA issued a statement to FOX 9 News that read in part: "The issue with the fuel cell has nothing to do with its accuracy, but rather its shelf life. They're supposed to last about a year, but we're finding instead that their shelf life has been inconsistent."

Ramsay says the fuel cell does much more than that.

"Without the fuel cell active, there are a number of other types of substances that can inflate the final test results," Ramsay said.

Ramsay argues that without consistent readings from both technologies, that opens the door for doubt -- and for him, another reason for DWI chares to be thrown out.

"The DataMaster isn't good enough by their own standards," he said.

The BCA statement went on to say: "Law enforcement training on how to use the DataMaster is continuing as scheduled, as have deployments. The BCA expects to complete the device rollouts later this summer. The bottom line is these devices help law enforcement officers get impaired drivers off the roads and help keep our roads safer for the rest of us."

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