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Use of Breath Test Results in Indiana OWI Trial Require Officer to Have Been Properly Certified

Operating While Intoxicated charges in Indiana often are based on breath test results. However, for breath test results to be admissible in court, the administration of the breath test must follow strict procedures. And, the breath test operator must be properly certified by the State of Indiana.
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a man’s operating while intoxicated conviction in Montgomery County because the officer who conducted the breath test was not properly trained.  After a traffic stop, a police officer witnessed signs that the defendant may be intoxicated.  The officer then administered a portable breath test which indicated a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .142 percent. A second breath test at the jail resulted in a .16 BAC. 

At trial, the State sought to introduce evidence of the officer’s breath test operator recertification. However, on cross-examination, the police officer admitted that he did not have training in the pharmacology of alcohol; the theory of operation of breath test equipment; the care and maintenance of breath test equipment; the legal aspects of breath testing; or in the interpretation of breath test results.  All of these are requirements to become a certified breath test operator in Indiana. The trial court overruled the defendant’s objection and admitted the certification and breath test result.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the defendant’s conviction for operating with an unlawful BAC. The Court held that because the police officer did not receive the training required by the Indiana Department of Toxicology to be certified, the breath test was inadmissible at trial.

Defending OWI charges requires a detailed analysis of the evidence, including the administration of any breath test and the officer’s qualifications to administer the test. Gibson Law Office has experienced OWI attorneys in Lafayette and Fort Wayne. We strategically defend OWI charges, and understand the strict technical requirements for the admission of breath test results. We have represented clients in 57 Indiana counties. If you are charged with Operating While Intoxicated in Indiana, call Gibson Law Office for a free initial consultation.