Grand Traverse Co. Court Hearing Centers on Breath Alcohol Testing Device

A breath alcohol testing device called into question earlier this year, was at the center of a hearing Wednesday in Grand Traverse County.

The DataMaster DMT is used at sheriff’s offices across the state to administer breath tests, but State Police ordered a review of their accuracy in January.

They said it was because of a performance related issue.

Now attorneys for a man who was given a test on the machine in December of 2019 want that evidence suppressed from his drunk driving case.

Wednesday’s hearing centered on an OWI arrest from Christmas Eve of last year. Deputies arrested Jacob Harrison on Garfield Road and he was given a breath test on a DataMaster DMT.

But questions were raised around the same time over the accuracy of the DataMaster. Defense attorneys argue evidence collected by the DataMaster in this case should be suppressed and questioned witnesses about the machine’s accuracy.

“Definitely difficulty in getting the technicians to perform adequately. One of the roles that I took over as a manager is to improve the work quality of your employees,” said Mark Fondren, the breath alcohol technical leader for MSP.

Prosecutors also asked about the accuracy, arguing there’s evidence the DataMaster was working properly.

“No issues October, November and December, of 2019. I would show it to you if I could, but given that information, as well as the calibration curve, that is was in service and that it should have been in service do you have concerns about the reliability do you have concerns about the reliability of a result obtained on December 24th 2019,” asked Kit Tholen, Deputy Civil Council.  “No,” responded Fondren.

The judge did not rule in the hearing on Wednesday.

Testimony will continue at a later date.

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