Southern Indiana police departments using portable breathalyzers - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Southern Indiana police departments using portable breathalyzers just in time for popular drinking days

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Sellersburg Police Chief William Whelan Sellersburg Police Chief William Whelan

SELLERSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) -- When William Whelan gets into his squad car for DUI patrols, the chief of Sellersburg Police knows exactly where to look for impaired drivers.

"County Road 31, State Road 60," he said.

As we inch toward Thanksgiving, Hoosiers hit the bottle even harder, and Whelan and his fellow officers are prepared.

That extra effort is thanks, in part, to a $750,000 grant administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

"That's exactly what we're here to do is to help make their job more effective, so we can make our roads safer," said Will Wingfield, spokesman for the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

The grant paid for portable breathalyzers. Not only do the detectors register a driver's blood alcohol level, newer technology allows it to do even more. Officers can attach a blue cup, turning the device into a "sniffer" that can detect alcohol in the air. It can also find booze hiding inside an open container.

That can be clutch when officers are trying to figure out what's really going on inside a difficult driver's car. The portable tests aren't admissible in court. They do, however, allow officers to find the probable cause they need to take appropriate action.

"This is done at the end to kind to verify or lead you into another direction," Whelan said. 

Sellersburg is one of the southern Indiana departments benefiting from the detectors. The Clark County Sheriff's Office, Jeffersonville Police Department and New Albany Police Department are too.

Whelan hopes the technology will ultimately stomp the brakes on DUI numbers in Indiana that can surge in November.

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