There was a time in the not too distant past here in Michigan where in order to prove that you were guilty of drugged driving, all they had to do was prove to the court that there was any amount of marijuana in your system while you were behind the wheel. But those days have come and gone. Since the legalization of first medical marijuana, and then later recreational marijuana, a lot has changed with regards to the burden of proof for Michigan’s county prosecutors.
You’ve probably heard a whole boatload of weird urban legends in your time about how to avoid a DUI arrest. Things like carrying mouthwash in your car and using some right before the officer walks up to your window (doesn’t work!). Or another false one that suggests chewing gum can help you fool the breathalyzer (which is actually a DataMaster machine).. But one of the most popular myths when it comes to beating the breath test machine is the one that says you can fool a breathalyzer by sucking on a penny. So is it true?
The Michigan State Police are currently investigating the third party vendor (Intoximeters) responsible for servicing and maintaining the 203 DataMaster DMT machines in use across the state of Michigan. DataMaster DMTs are the type of machine Michigan law enforcement uses to breath test potentially drunk drivers once they’re back at the station after an arrest. Although roadside breath tests are used to help officers determine if someone is likely intoxicated, those results aren’t admissible in court. Only the results of the DataMaster test, taken back at the police station or jail, can be used as evidence in court. And now even those are in question…
When people hear about someone being charged with drugged driving, they usually assume that the driver facing charges were high on heroin, cocaine, meth, or some other illegal substance. (And then there’s weed, which is legal to use recreationally in Michigan, but you still can’t drive under the influence!) But what about legal painkillers?
Law enforcement officials come up with some pretty interesting ideas to raise awareness of drunk driving these days. From printed coasters left in bars to remind drinkers to call a cab, to the creative ads plastered on billboards during March Madness, it’s always interesting to see what they’ll come up with next. So when we saw this cop car from Glendale, California, painted to look like half a taxi and half a cop car to remind people that they need to be careful which ride they choose.
If there’s one thing you can rely on the Michigan State Police for, it’s the fact that when something potentially bad happens that could affect police departments in Michigan, they don’t hunker down and pretend it isn’t happening. They grab it by the horns and fight. It was like that when there were allegations of corruption in the Detroit Forensic Lab, which resulted in an investigation by MSP and a scathing report that got that crime lab shuttered for good. And now that there’s a possibility of corruption by a third party vendor tasked with servicing Datamaster breath testing machines across the state. (Which are the machines that some people call ‘Breathalyzers.) It seems some of the data documenting the servicing of breath test machines around the state is faulty…
A recent important case has set the tone for other, future DUI cases in Michigan after a Lansing district court judge threw out a guilty verdict because the prosecutor didn’t disclose information that might have helped the defendant. This is called exculpatory evidence. It all started back in November of 2018, when 43-year-old Patrick Reynolds of Grand Rapids hit a pole with his car near an intersection in Lansing, Michigan. It was about 2 am, and he had just left the bar and was driving home when he lost control of his vehicle and struck the pole in Ingham County.
For most people, when we think of the holidays, we think of giving gifts to loved ones, decorating the Christmas tree, and spending time with family. What we rarely think about is a ride in a cop car, a lonely stint in the local jail, and criminal charges. And yet for many people, that’s exactly what happens! Because believe it or not, drunk driving and drugged driving arrests rise sharply around the holidays.
The report reveals disturbing info about breath testing in the US!
Drunk driving accounts for hundreds of thousands of arrests every year, all over the country. Here in Michigan, more than 35,000 people are arrested for DUIs every year. That’s a lot of people being pulled over and subjected to breath tests, roadside sobriety tests, and eventually blood work. But what if right off the bat, the data is wrong? What if you get pulled over and breath-tested by the cops, but the Breathalyzer machine (or the Datamaster, which is what we use here in Michigan) is wrong? Will you end up wrongfully accused of being drunk behind the wheel when you’re not? Maybe…
Welcome back to this interesting and, let’s be honest, somewhat alarming discussion about “auto-brewery syndrome.” If you recall from the previous article, it’s a medical condition where, courtesy of an imbalance of yeast or bacteria in the digestive tract, a person’s gut produces ethanol from carbohydrates they eat. And since ethanol is what intoxicates you when you drink alcohol, you don’t have to think hard to imagine the results. (That’s right – you end up drunk when you’ve had nothing to drink and should be stonecold sober!)