State troopers hit by impaired drivers happening more frequently

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- An Indiana state trooper is back on duty after he was hit by alleged drunk driver last week.

Trooper Drew Atwell had to go to the hospital after being rear-ended early last Thursday morning. Data shows incidents involving state troopers and impaired drivers are becoming dangerously frequent.

Indiana State Police said 38-year-old Dustin Boyer slammed his pickup truck into the back of Atwell’s patrol car.

“We’re very fortunate the trooper wasn’t injured,” said ISP Sergeant John Perrine. “But it was found the driver that was intoxicated that caused that crash.”

Atwell happened to be working another crash when all this happened near I-465 and Southport Rd. But as the numbers show, this wasn’t an isolated incident.

“Usually if we have a police car hit in the middle of the night, you can almost count on that it was by a drunk driver,” said Perrine.

In 2018, state police say five of their troopers have been hit by impaired drivers; four of those incidents happened on Indianapolis roadways. Two of those involved troopers investigating other crashes, one was working a traffic stop, and the other was driving. None were seriously injured.

“Unfortunately, it happens a lot more than we would like it to,” said Perrine.

Under current law, there’s no difference in penalties for impaired drivers who hit law enforcement officers versus civilians. Some lawmakers support changing that.

In a statement, State Senator Jim Merritt (R) said “We need to do everything possible to protect our law enforcement officers on and off-duty.” He added that protections from any kind of injury should follow an officer, even if they’re off-duty.

State police say these days there’s no excuse to drive impaired, especially with the quick access people have to ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.