Indiana News

Revised Blood Sample Law Would Have Answered Many Bisard Issues

Bill seeks to fix issues which surfaced long before officer's DUI charges

5/3/2013

The three-year fight over blood evidence in the David Bisard case would be averted in future cases under a bill awaiting Governor Pence's signature.

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Drunken-driving charges against Bisard in a fatal 2010 crash have been dismissed, refiled and appealed in a dispute over whether the technician who took the Indy police officer's blood sample was properly qualified under state law.

Legislators have voted to abandon attempts to specify which professionals can take blood, and simply state anyone with appropriate "training, experience or education" can do it.

Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) co-sponsored the bill with Senator Randy Head (R-Logansport), a former prosecutor. Merritt says the need to obtain blood samples promptly was an issue even before the Bisard controversy thrust it into the spotlight. At one point, an appeals court threw out a DUI charge because the law then in effect required samples to be taken by a "certified phlebotomist" -- a certification the state doesn't offer.

Merritt says the human body process alcohol quickly enough that it's important to be able to take a sample promptly, without having to hunt for someone who meets one of several classifications in state law. He acknowledges there will be more courtroom haggling over whether a technician is qualified to take a blood sample, but says the end result will be more reliable evidence.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously and cleared the House 86-13. It's awaiting the formality of House Speaker Brian Bosma's signature before going to Pence, who will have a week to decide whether to sign or veto it.

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