New portable breath tests help ISP enforce impaired driving

Monday, September 3, 2018

PUTNAMVILLE -- The Indiana State Police (ISP) used a new tool to enforce alcohol-impaired driving this Labor Day weekend.

The department’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”program continued through Monday, Sept. 3, which was Labor Day.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Indiana Criminal Justice Institute recently purchased 777 portable breath test devices for use by ISP troopers.

In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. In Indiana, drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to one year.

Since 2017, more than 2,600 portable breath tests have been purchased for 150 law-enforcement agencies across Indiana. The Alco-Sensor FSTs also include passive sniffers that can sense alcohol in the air around a person or an open container.

With thousands upon thousands of Hoosier families taking to their cars for end-of-summer barbecues, football games, lakes and pool parties, Labor Day weekend is one of the deadliest times of the year for impaired-driving deaths.

ISP is joining law-enforcement agencies across Indiana and the nation to enforce impaired-driving laws through Labor Day as part of Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over program. Expect to see increased sobriety checkpoints, roving patrols and saturation patrols.

Getting arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) means going to jail and losing your driver’s license.

The average cost? About $10,000, including car towing, attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work and other hefty expenses.

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Drive High -- Get an OWI

Impaired driving includes more than alcohol, and there is no quick field test for the many prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs that can impair drivers. This year, the police officers highly trained to recognize and enforce drug-impaired driving were issued Android tablets to simplify documentation for prosecution.

Taking a new drug or a higher dose? Talk with a doctor or don’t drive until you know what effects it has. Even over-the-counter medication can cause impairment, especially when combined with alcohol or a second drug.

Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over

Motorcycle riders have the reputation for being tough, but no one is tough enough to withstand the effects of impaired riding. Motorcycles are about three percent of registered vehicles, but are dramatically overrepresented in fatal crashes involving alcohol. And the more that bikers drink, the less likely they are to wear their helmets.

Tips for a safe and fun holiday

With all of today’s options for getting home safely, there’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel impaired as it endangers you and everyone else around you. Law enforcement recommends these safe alternatives to impaired driving:

• Designate, or be, a sober driver.

• Use public transportation.

• Call a cab or a ride-sharing service.

• Download the SaferRide mobile app on the Android Play Store or the Apple iTunes Store. This app only has three options: call a taxi, call a friend, and identify your location for pickup.

• Celebrate at home or a place where you can stay until sober.

• Throwing a party? Offer non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food.

• Never provide alcohol to minors.

• Ask young drivers about their plans.

• Friend or family member about to drive? Take the keys and make alternate arrangements.

Impaired driving is three times more common at night than during the day. If you see an impaired driver, turn off the road away from the vehicle and call 911. Signs of impaired driving include:

• Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line.

• Driving at a very slow speed.

• Braking erratically.

• Making wide turns.

• Stopping without cause.

• Responding slowly to traffic signals.

• Driving after dark with headlights off.

• Almost striking an object or vehicle.

• Driving on the wrong side of the road.

• Turning abruptly or illegally.

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