Indiana Drunk Driving Accidents Targeted With New Breathalyzers

Drunk driving in Indiana kills more than 200 people a year on average, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As part of an effort to address this, reports the Hammond Police Department is among the approximately 150 agencies that received new portable breathalyzer test devices to use in roadside stops. 

The NHTSA issued a $750,000 grant for the purchase of more than 1,700 breathalyzers to be used by state and local law enforcement agencies throughout Indiana. Another $300,000 has been allocated to buy 725 new breathalyzer tests for Indiana State Police over the next 12 months. The new Alco-Sensor FST includes gas canisters and mouthpieces to calculate the individual readings. These devices come equipped with “passive sniffers” that are able to detect alcohol in the air around an individual or concealed in an open container. Results of that particular feature can’t be used in court to prosecute criminals, but they can be used as probable cause to take the next step in evidence-gathering, reports.

Word of these purchases comes just in time for popular drinking days, which include the night before Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

As reported by, Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest – if not the deadliest – holiday of the year, with more than 500 people killed in traffic crashes. On a typical day, about 100 are killed. It’s estimated that 90 percent of Americans traveling for Thanksgiving will do so by motor vehicle. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates the number of Americans on a road trip longer than 50 miles over Thanksgiving weekend increases by about 54 percent, compared to Christmas and New Year’s Day, when the average jumps by about 23 percent.

That tells us the first issue is the sheer volume of vehicles on the road. Traffic congestion combined with poor driving habits (speeding, tailgating, texting while driving, and, of course, drinking and driving) inevitably increases the number of crashes.

But alcohol consumption in particular is a problem on Thanksgiving. This might seem odd, but consider that it’s a time when many people return to their home towns for festivities and use the night before the feast to catch up with old friends. It’s become such a problem that the day before Thanksgiving has been given its own name:  “Blackout Wednesday.” Our Hammond car accident lawyers know it’s particularly an issue among college students and people in their 20s.

A new report released last month by the NHTSA examines alcohol-impaired driving nationally, finding drunk driving accidents last year killed 10,500 people. That amounts to an average of one alcohol-impaired driving death every 50 minutes, accounting for 28 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities.

The estimated economic cost of drunk driving accidents is $44 billion. That includes medical costs, emergency medical expenses, lost productivity, insurance administration, property damage, traffic congestion, and legal and court expenses.

Indiana Code section 7.1-5-10-15.5 allows victims of drunk drivers to seek compensation from alcohol vendors that furnish alcohol to a person who then causes an injury to another person if the vendor had actual knowledge the person was intoxicated at the time and if intoxication was the proximate or foreseeable cause of the injuries. This is in addition to the liability DUI accident victims can seek to impose directly on the drunk driver (via bodily injury liability insurance), as well as their own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.

Indiana Injury Attorney Burton A. Padove handles personal injury claims throughout northern Indiana, including Highland, Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:

Hammond police, other agencies statewide receive new breathalyzer test kits, Oct. 17, 2017, By Lauren Cross,

More Blog Entries:

Indiana Appeals Court: Vehicle Insured but Denied Coverage is Uninsured for UM Purposes, Oct. 18, 2017, Hammond Drunk Driving Injury Lawyer Blog

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