Officers to begin using new breathalyzer instruments

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INDIANAPOLIS – Law enforcement agencies across Indiana are getting retrained and recertified on a new breathalyzer instrument.

There are about 5,000 certified breathalyzer test operators in Indiana. The Indiana State Department of Toxicology started retraining officers today. It will take about 6 months to train everybody.

Captain Richard Allen with the Mooresville Police Department said this is the third instrument he’s been trained on in 30 years.

“It tells you everything to do. I mean that’s one of the nicest things with the last one and this one here,” Allen said.

Law enforcement agencies started using the current instrument 24 years ago. This new instrument has been updated.

“Now we can utilize the driver’s license. We can scan the individual’s driver’s license and it imports all that information in the new instrument,” Allen said.

ISDT Director Ed Littlejohn said the new instrument uses different technology than the older instrument.

“With these instruments, there are built-in checks and balances (that) did not exist in the older instruments,” Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn anticipates that law enforcement officials in central Indiana will begin using the new breathalyzer instrument at the end of April or early May. There will be about 210 new breathalyzer instruments installed at different law enforcement offices throughout the state.

“This is the new instrument that’s going to be used as an evidentiary instrument. Agencies have handheld breathalyzer test devices that they use for probable cause, (but) for an evidentiary test, they need to use an instrument (that is) certified by the Department of Toxicology,” Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn believes these instruments will make a difference for officers.

“This is a law enforcement tool. It’s a tool for the courts and the difference between this instrument and the other, the average individual wouldn’t know,” Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn said this has been something the department has been working on for a while.

Allen believes he will be ready to use the new instrument when it is time to do so.

“We’re hoping so. We’re good to go.”

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