15 minutes: The waiting game

by: Matt Newburg

08/24/2015 07:59 PM EST
Tags:
  criminal law  
  datamaster  

Michigan Law requires that prior to the administration of a Datamaster test officers must monitor the person submitting to the test for the 15 minutes prior to the datamaster administration.  A datamaster is a test that is often times administered at the jail after an individual has been arrested for Operating Under the Influence of Liquor.  While Datamaster results are admissible in any civil or criminal case, the admissibility is not absolute.  Datamaster results are admisibile only if administered after the person providing the sample has been observed for a period of 15 minutes during which time they cannot smoke, regurgitate, or place anything in their mouth except for the mouthpiece for the datamaster.  Minor deviations are permitted as long as there are assurances that the results are an accurate representation of the defendant’s actual blood alcohol level.

On the other hand, suppression of the datamaster results is required where there is a substantial lapse in the period of observation or, where there is a minor lapse coupled with other evidence that casts doubt on the reliability of the datamaster results. Datamaster results are admissible only if there is substantial compliance with the foundational requirements found in the administrative rules and there are assurances that the results of the test accurately depict the defendant’s blood alcohol level. Michigan Courts have suppressed Datamaster results on numerous occasions and results can be suppressed.  The datamaster are paramount to the establishment of the prosecution's case.  If an officer does not wait for 15 minutes and there are circumstances of sporadic observation the results must be dismissed.

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