BCA's Breath Alcohol Machine Should've Never Been Approved

Posted On March 06, 2023 Charles Ramsay

A suspicion of bad things to come

It was last July when I started hearing rumblings in court from the State breath alcohol “scientists” about how they were redoing validations on the DMT related to interfering substances. The State technicians said that they needed to “re-evaluate” how the State’s breath alcohol machine detected interfering substances like acetone on a person's breath.

This admission was very strange coming from the State. They usually keep news like this close to the vest. I knew this meant something big was wrong. The State doesn’t just redo past studies for the fun of it. 

I kept digging and discovered that the State had been improperly making its interference solutions for at least the past 10 years! They had basically been pouring large amounts of acetone into the DMT in order to make it flag for acetone. 

They also failed to keep any records of how they made their solutions. It was like a game of telephone with one scientist whispering instructions to the next, but never taking the care to write the recipe down.

This could shut down the breath lab

If the State had openly admitted to improperly making their acetone solution, what else had they been hiding for the past 10 years?

I started scouring through my old data practice requests. I went all the way back to the original Request for Proposal (RFP).

What I’m about to show you could literally shut down breath testing in Minnesota.

In section 2.18 of the RFP, it states: “the instrument’s alcohol concentration measurement must not be increased or decreased by more than 0.004 g/210L AC as a result of ketone bodies [aka acetone] or other substances produced endogenously.”

From what State scientists have been telling me in court, the instrument won’t flag until an interfering substance like acetone adds somewhere between 0.005 and 0.02 g/210L. And on one occasion, a scientist said that the interference flag varies by concentration. 

So, for over 10 years, the State has been testing drivers with a device that never met their standards in the first place!

Why interfering substances matter

According to the State’s own documents, ‚Äč‚Äčsubstances like acetone, “may be present in the breath of diabetics, dieters or highly exercised individuals.” 

This means that a citizen of Minnesota who is on a diet could be wrongfully convicted of being above 0.08. A person could have an alcohol concentration of 0.075, but because of the State’s error, their score could be inflated to over 0.08!

Where do we go from here?

I never thought the State could make an error this big. The State either needs to deduct the maximum interference from each test or shut the breath program down.

The citizens of Minnesota deserve to know why this machine was approved when it failed to meet the standards the State had set. The citizens of MN deserve answers.

There is much more to be discussed on this front. The lab technicians who approved the machine failed to do their civic duty to provide fair and accurate testing for all citizens in Minnesota.

Call Ramsay Law if you think you’ve been affected by these errors.


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Charles Ramsay