At the beginning of the year, the state of Michigan took all 203 of its alcohol breath testing machines used at jails and police stations, not the ones used for roadside tests, out of service. These are the machines that provide the results prosecutors seek to use in court as evidence of DUI. Now, the Michigan State Police say the problem with the machines is fixed, and authorities are using them once again.
According to reports, at least two technicians hired in 2018 to maintain, certify and calibrate the machines were not doing their jobs. They falsified records, failed to properly calibrate the machines and failed to properly record the data from the machines. The Michigan State Police says these problems only affected eight of the 203 machines and 52 cases involving suspected drunk driving.
Supposedly, courts only dismissed seven cases associated with incorrect results from these machines. That number could grow as more of the affected cases go to court since authorities only discovered the problem in Aug. 2019. To make matters worse, it appears the machines may have remained in service through the end of 2019, which leaves the possibility of other discrepancies on the table.
Looking toward the future, even though the Michigan State Police say the machines are now working properly, that does not mean that every result is infallible. Even when properly calibrated, other errors can occur that would affect the ability to obtain accurate results. Every individual has the right to challenge the results of these tests, especially when one’s freedom and future is at stake. Anyone facing charges for DUI should not simply accept the results of a breath test — whether it is done on the side of the road, in a jail or at a police station.