South Carolina Datamaster Issues



This week Cole Law Firm challenged the Datamaster result for our client in a DUI trial. We moved to suppress the results and the Court agreed. Today, we’ll cover the Datamaster and some issues the machine may encounter.

So What is the Datamaster?

The Datamaster is a machine that analyzes a person’s breath and determines the amount of ethanol in their breath. It’s a complicated machine but the basic mechanics are this; the Datamaster sends an infrared light through a tube. At the end of the tube is a power meter. Ethanol will absorb certain parts of the light and reduce the power. The machine measures the amount of light lost, and then determines the ethanol amount.

What are Common Datamaster Errors?

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is responsible for maintaining and monitoring all Datamaster’s throughout South Carolina. SLED created regulations for the breath-test procedure that must be followed. If they are not followed, the accuracy of the test can be called into question.

Some of the common errors include.

  1. 20 Minute Observation Period – SLED regulations require a person to be observed for 20 minutes prior to the administration of the test. This is to allow for all mouth alcohol to dissipate. If a test is administered prior to the 20 minute window, the accuracy can be affected.
  2. Reading your Implied Consent Rights – South Carolina Law requires a person to be read the implied consent rights. These rights explain the requirement for taking a breath sample. A person must be read and given a copy of these rights. If this paper is not read and given to the subject, the breath-test result may be suppressed.
  3. Machine Errors – The Datamaster has several code errors that can occur; pump error, sim temp too low, and radio frequency interference are common errors. These can challenge the reliability of the Datamaster reading.


The Datamaster is a complex machine. Cole Law Firm attorneys are trained on the operation of the machine and we have a Datamaster in our office. Understanding how the machine works and common errors are critical when your case is on the line. Cole Law Firm has experienced South Carolina Criminal Defense attorneys that handle DUI cases throughout the Upstate of South Carolina. Contact us today!