From 1999 through the first half of 2016, Alabama exclusively used the Draeger 7110 MK-III for breath alcohol testing throughout the state. That is changing. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) is now implementing a new breath alcohol testing device, the Intoximeter Datamaster DMT-FC. It will be in use very soon; the latter part of 2016 or early 2017. The device, which we will refer to as the DMT for brevity, was manufactured originally at National Patent Analytical Systems (NPAS), located in Mansfield, Ohio. Intoximeters, Inc. bought the breath test section of NPAS and will be the supplier of the devices to the state. Intoximeters, Inc. has added a fuel cell to the DMT along with some other tweaks for Alabama. The photo above is the Alabama version of the DMT. It claims to have duel technology, both infrared and electrochemical. It has a touchscreen, an electronic driver’s license reader, and a keyboard. There are three canisters of dry gas for calibration checks at three alcohol content levels. There will be a calibration check (cal-check) for all tests at a .02%. If a person blows a reading of .15% or higher, another cal-check will be done from a .15% dry gas canister. If a person blows a reading of below .15%, then the second cal-check will be done from the .08% canister. As the name “Datamaster” implies, the device will accumulate and store a lot of data, which is capable of being retrieved at a later time. Unlike its predecessor, there will be no breath temperature correction on the Alabama DMT, but there will be a reduction of every test result of approximately 10 per cent. The DMT also has shielding for radio frequency interference (RFI) as well as an external antenna for picking up any RFI.
The DMT for Alabama has an added feature that is not included on DMT machines in any other state. This added feature is an electrochemical fuel cell added in an effort to have a “duel technology” device. The Alabama DMT is known as the DMT-FC. The FC stands for fuel cell.
As of this writing in October of 2016, approximately 26 Datamaster DMT-FC breath-test devices are in the hands of the Department of Forensic Sciences, and more are on the way. One could say with a straight face that Alabama is reverting to 1970’s technology in the breath-testing program. Alabama is going back to the 3.5 micron wavelength measurement area on the infrared spectra and back to using the chopper wheel for breaking up the signal, both of which it had moved away from when it adopted the Draeger in 1999. Technology continues to change and more and more information can be retained by the software and retrieved long after a citizen takes a breath test.
One of the reasons for Alabama’s change from Draeger to Datamaster is the lack of availability of parts for the aging Draeger Alcotest 7110 devices. The state of Alabama has been using the Draeger since 1999. We will soon have new issues to defend on this new piece of equipment.