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Drunk Driving Law Change Clears First Hurdle

Last updated on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

(INDIANAPOLIS) - A proposed change to Indiana’s drunk driving law cleared its first hurdle at the Statehouse Tuesday. The bill stems from the case against IMPD Officer David Bisard.

Troy Kehoe of WISH TV8 reports that Senate Bill 168 could soon impact DUI arrests across the state. But, it's Bisard's case that brought its content to the forefront.

Bisard crashed his squad car into three motorcyclists in August of 2010, seriously injuring two and killing Eric Wells, 30.

Prosecutors say Bisard was drunk at the time , and his blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.19--more than three times the legal limit.

But, because the blood was drawn at an occupational medical clinic by a medical assistant, and not at a hospital by a nurse, doctor or EMT, the sample was initially thrown out in court. That decision was then overturned on appeal.

But, Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says it's clear the current law on blood draws is "filled with ambiguity." He and Senator Randy Head (R-Logansport) have proposed what Merritt calls "an easy fix to the problem."

"It really levels the playing field and makes it fair," Merritt said. "It's just a simple change. But, I think all the different issues that came with the Bisard case and all the dust in the air, this really clarifies exactly who can take the blood sample. It's something that puts it in stone, puts it in code, exactly who can take the blood and how it's analyzed. And, it just gives a lot more direction to law enforcement and to EMTs."

Under the bill, blood would be admissible in court if it is drawn by "anyone qualified through training, experience, or education to obtain a bodily substance sample."

The proposed changes were approved unanimously by the Senate Courts and Criminal Code Committee Tuesday, and will move on now to Senate Appropriations Committee for further study.

Bisard's trial, meanwhile,will be held outside Marion County, but no decision has been made yet on when or where. Judge Grant Hawkins is expected to make those rulings when Bisard heads back to court on February 14.

To read more on this story visit http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/news/local/marion_county/drunk-driving-law-change-clears-1-hurdle

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