As your Indiana Drunk Driving accident Attorneys, representing Hoosiers seriously injured in drunk driving accidents all over the State of Indiana from our Indianapolis offices, we know how devastating a drunk driving accident can be. A drunk driver causes drunk driving accidents because the drunk is impaired and cannot control the car. In the hands of a drunk driver the car becomes a 2,000 pound missile wreaking havoc on our roads. We have seen too many drunk driving accidents and the resulting injuries which include spinal cord injuries resulting in paraplegia and quadriplegia, broken bones, brain injury, blindness, and wrongful death. So what does science tell us about how to determine if a driver is drunk?
First it is more precise to use the term impaired. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. In other words, alcohol depresses (impairs) the signals to and from the brain from the body. Thus, bodily function, reaction time and judgment become impaired as a result of the alcohol. The more alcohol in the system, the greater the impairment to the signaling system between the brain and the body and the more danger in the operation of machinery, such as a car. The criminal justice system has different criminal statutes addressing alcohol impairment. One Such Statute is I.C. 9-30-5-1. Sec. 1. (a) A person who operates a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least eight-hundredths (0.08) gram of alcohol but less than fifteen-hundredths (0.15) gram of alcohol per: (1) one hundred (100) milliliters of the person’s blood; or (2) two hundred ten (210) liters of the person’s breath; commits a Class C misdemeanor. (b) A person who operates a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least fifteen-hundredths (0.15) gram of alcohol per: (1) one hundred (100) milliliters of the person’s blood; or (2) two hundred ten (210) liters of the person’s breath; commits a Class A misdemeanor. (c) A person who operates a vehicle with a controlled substance listed in schedule I or II of IC 35-48-2 or its metabolite in the person’s body commits a Class C misdemeanor.
This statute requires proof of a certain alcohol concentration in the blood, it does not require proof of impairment. Tests are obtained either in the form of breath tests or blood tests. Under Indiana Law, when a driver obtains an operator’s license, they impliedly consent to a blood or breath test if the authorities have probable cause to believe a driver is driving under the influence. See I.C. 9-30-6-1. Impairment is not tested with a machine. Impairment is tested by a couple different observations of trained law enforcement. The officer detects impairment by observing the operator drive. Observations of impairment include weaving, taking wide turns, driving at reduced speeds and failing to properly stop at stop signs. If an officer has reason to believe a person is intoxicated, the officer will have the driver do field sobriety checks. These include walking a straight line, saying the alphabet, touching the finger to the nose while standing on one leg, etc. The officer will be asked to testify as to their observations of the driver in performing these tasks when impairment is an issue in the prosecution.
There is a great deal more to this topic than this space allows. If you would like to further discuss these matters, please contact us.