I Think The Cop Used a Broken Breathalyzer On Me!

Michigan cops use a “PBT” machine roadside, and a DataMaster back at the jail to test your BAC.


Before we even start, we want to clear up one common misunderstanding that many people in Michigan have, and it’s this: Michigan cops don’t use Breathalyzers! Just like people say “Hoover” for a vacuum, regardless of the brand, and “Kleenex” even when it’s a tissue made by a completely different company, the term “Breathalyzer” is widely used to refer to any machine a cop uses to test a person’s breath for traces of alcohol. However, that’s not really accurate here in Michigan. Why? Because here in the Great Lakes state, all the cops use a DataMaster machine.


What machine do the cops use at the roadside to breath test you?


So here’s the breakdown: In Michigan, normally the only breath alcohol test results that can be used as evidence in a court of law, are the results of a DataMaster machine. But a Datamaster is used only in the police station, because it isn’t mobile. Which means an officer can’t ask you to step out of the car and blow into a DataMaster. So what is that little handheld device that Michigan cops use, if it isn’t a DataMaster?


Michigan cops use a “PBT” machine to breath test you during DUI stops


‘PBT’ stands for ‘preliminary breath test.’ In Michigan, cops use a PBT machine, which is a small, handheld device, to do roadside breath tests on drivers they suspect may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, the results of a PBT machine can’t usually be used as evidence in a Michigan court. So if an officer pulls you over because he thinks you’re driving drunk, and then tests you with a small handheld device, those results aren’t normally admissible in court. All they do is help the officer decide if you’re under the influence, at which point he’ll arrest you and take you to jail, where you’ll be subjected to a test on the DataMaster machine.


Can the DataMaster machine be broken, or used incorrectly?


Once you’re back at the jail, you’ll be tested using the DataMaster, which can only be operated by an officer whose been trained and certified to operate the DataMaster. However, in order for the results of a DataMaster BAC test to be valid and reliable, they have to be:


  • Performed by a trained and certified officer
  • The officer’s training and certification have to be up-to-date and valid
  • All scheduled maintenance must have been completed on the DataMaster
  • The machine must have been properly calibrated
  • The machine must be “purged” in preparation for the test
  • The testing process must be properly administered, according to the officer’s training manual


We fight incorrect breath test results all the time in Michigan!


As highly rated drunk driving defense attorneys, we encounter these types of situations regularly. As Chuck Kronzek explains, “We find improperly operated equipment all the time. Some of it not properly calibrated, or not calibrated in a timely manner. Sometimes it’s not used properly. Sometimes the operator is not certified to use the equipment. You’d be amazed at how often we can invalidate their results.”


When  you have been accused of drunk driving or drugged driving in mid-Michigan, but you’re sure the breath test machine they used on you gave a false result, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail) and talk to someone who can help. Our highly skilled DUI defense attorneys have all the resources and experience to help you fight charges stemming from poorly maintained machinery and improperly trained officers. We’ve been fighting for our clients since the last century.



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