INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Senate approved a bill designed to improve intoxication tests after a drunk-driving crash.
Senate Bill 168 passed in a 48-0 vote Tuesday. The legislation authored by Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) and Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) would allow any qualified, properly trained individual to take a blood sample and have that sample used in court. Current law only allows licensed doctors, nurses or advanced emergency medical technicians to obtain samples admissible in court proceedings.
The bill stems from the fatal crash in Aug. 2010 involving Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer David Bisard, who was involved in a wreck that killed Eric Wells and injured two other motorcyclists. Blood tests showed Bisard’s blood alcohol content measured three times the legal limit, but the sample was deemed inadmissible in court due to a procedural error. In that case, a medical assistant took the sample instead of a certified technician.
“Courts will only consider fluid samples as evidence if they were obtained legitimately, and for good reason,” Head said. “However, alcohol could move through an impaired driver’s system before a professional who is currently deemed qualified has the opportunity to take the needed blood work — creating a loophole where a drunk driver’s fluid sample could be thrown out of court. This could keep someone from being held accountable for a victim’s death or injury.”
Merritt said the Bisard case influenced the legislation, adding that the bill isn’t meant to pass judgment on that matter.
“But, current state statute on this matter is filled with ambiguity and must be fixed,” Merritt said. “Clarifying who can legitimately draw a blood sample will give both law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians more direction in the case of an accident.”
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.