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David Bisard (WIBC.com file photo)
David Bisard's position as a police officer and the actions of other police at the scene have put his drunken-driving case in the spotlight. But the issues that will decide the case are essentially the same as in any DUI trial.
The key to defending a DUI case is to persuade the jury that the blood or breath test showing the driver was over the limit wasn't reliable. Bisard's case is unusual in that it was prosecutors who first suggested that. Then-Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi dropped the DUI charge because a since-amended state law governing where a blood sample must be drawn and by whom wasn't followed. Brizzi's successor Terry Curry refiled the charge, and the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed the jury could decide for itself whether the sample is reliable.
But IUPUI McKinney School of Law Professor Novella Nedeff notes there are two routes to a guilty verdict. A blood-alcohol reading of more than .08 is enough for a conviction if the jury finds the test reliable -- but prosecutors can also try to prove a driver was impaired, by introducing evidence of reckless or erratic driving.
Prosecutors say Bisard was going 73 miles an hour in a 40-mile-an-hour zone before slamming on the brakes just before the crash which killed motorcyclist Eric Wells. Nedeff says speeding alone ordinarily isn't enough to conclude a driver was impaired, but prosecutors have begun introducing witnesses who claim Bisard told them he'd been drinking. The defense, meanwhile, can point to several witnesses who say Bisard didn't appear drunk, while trying to explain away the speeding.
Bisard's trial is entering its second week. His lawyers said in opening statements he was racing to answer a call. Prosecutors say it wasn't an emergency run.
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