First impression case on mouthpieces as 'foreign substance'

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

In a matter of first impression, a portable breath test mouthpiece isn’t a foreign substance that will act to invalidate the results of a blood alcohol content Datamaster chemical breath test, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In State of Indiana v. James G. Lucas, No. 91A05-1003-CR-247, James Lucas argued his Datamaster results were invalid because he was given two portable breath tests within less than 20 minutes after being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. He argued that the mouthpiece used to administer the portable breath test was a “foreign substance” for purposes of chemical breath test regulations. The trial court granted his motion to suppress.

The procedures for administering a breath test using a B.A.C. Datamaster say a person must not have had any foreign substance in his mouth or respiratory tract within 20 minutes before the time a breath sample is given.

The appellate judges rejected that argument and reversed the motion to suppress. They relied on neighboring provisions within the Datamaster regulations that state if the test displays certain errors after giving a breath sample, the test should be repeated once the green LED light on the instrument is glowing. The 20-minute delay isn’t required, and under these circumstances, the test subject would have had an initial mouthpiece placed in his mouth in less than 20 minutes. This doesn’t invalidate the final result, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

If the Datamaster mouthpiece isn’t considered a foreign substance, then the mouthpiece of the PBT shouldn’t be either.

“We acknowledge that PBTs and Datamasters are separate and distinct devices. Moreover, PBTs are less sophisticated than Datamasters and are not subject to certification by the State toxicology department. But PBTs are still recognized as standard breath testing instruments. The Indiana Code expressly sanctions their use by law enforcement and mandates their use in certain circumstances — even in tandem with chemical breath tests. Officer Stinson’s testimony further indicates that customary measures are observed to ensure that PBT mouthpieces are legitimate and uncontaminated,” she wrote.

The case was remanded for further proceedings.



Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.