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New Tools For Police This Labor Day

Most Hoosiers have seen or heard the public service announcement, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”  This Labor Day weekend, law enforcement, specifically the Indiana State Police, will have new tools they are using for DUI enforcement.  According to a recent press release by the Indiana State Police, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Indiana Criminal Justice Institute recently purchased 777 portable breath test devices for use by ISP troopers.

Hoosiers on the roads (or lakes) this weekend should expect possible DUI checkpoints, roving patrols, and saturation patrols.  According to the Indiana State Police, the average cost for a DUI is several thousand dollars.  http://on.IN.gov/drivesober.

Those recently purchased portable breath test devices by ISP will likely be used in the field during checkpoints or saturation patrols.  The machine is a relatively small device that is typically kept in the officer’s vehicle.   This device and test is usually offered on the side of the road at the scene of the traffic stop. There is generally not a penalty for refusing this test (or any standardized or nonstandardized field sobriety tests, for that matter), and the specific results of this test are usually not admissible in a court of law. However, police officers can use the test to develop probable cause to offer a certified chemical test.

If there is probable cause to believe that you are intoxicated, officers may officer another test.  The second type is called a certified breath test or certified chemical test. In Indiana, the instrument that law enforcement uses is the EC-IR 2, and this instrument is larger in size (think the size of a small suitcase) and is usually kept at the police station or local jail.  Obviously, that requires the transportation of the individual to the facility where the machine is located.

Prior to the administration of a certified breath or chemical test, officers should advise the individual concerning implied consent.  If an individual is read implied consent by the law enforcement officer and offered a certified chemical test, the options are fairly straightforward. Unlike an uncertified portable breath test, where there is generally no penalty for declining, refusing a certified chemical test will likely result in at least a one-year license suspension. Moreover, this “refusal suspension” is not eligible for specialized driving privileges (driving privileges for work-related driving while suspended). To make matters potentially worse, when an individual refuses a certified chemical test, officers can seek a search warrant for the individual’s blood to be drawn at a hospital and tested despite the refusal. And, while the warrant process can be time consuming and some officers may elect to stop the investigation at this point, many officers can obtain telephonic or electronic search warrants in order to speed up this process. If properly obtained in a timely manner and the proper foundation is established in court, blood test results are or can be admissible in a court of law.

Any increase in portable breath test machines or patrols does not mean that the individuals officers encounter are not entitled to certain constitutional rights.  If you find yourself encountering law enforcement on this holiday weekend, it is extremely important that you quickly obtain experienced DUI defense counsel.  While it could potentially be your first significant encounter with law enforcement, it is most likely not the officer’s first DUI investigation or arrest. 

With a criminal defense team of former deputy prosecutors now representing individuals accused of drunk driving, Keffer Barnhart LLP stands ready to provide its clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law, and its application to their individualized case. Act now and call us today at (317) 857-0160 or 1-800-NOT-GUILTY.