LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — More than 230 police agencies across Indiana are ramping up patrols to keep drunk drivers off the road. From now until Labor Day, all Tippecanoe County agencies are participating in the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.
Lafayette police arrested a woman accused of operating while intoxicated Wednesday morning and our cameras were rolling.
In Indiana, it's illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. The lady likely knew that but decided to get behind the wheel anyway. She didn't know she'd get arrested or that she'd end up on the news.
News 18 rode in the overnight shift with Officer Carson Smith. He took calls for domestic disturbances, suspicious activity and made several traffic stops. However, that's not what he's known for on the force.
Officer Smith is one of the top cops with Lafayette police to catch drunk drivers. He caught 23 last year, and the signs are usually simple.
"They forget to turn their headlights on, bouncing in their lane, making a turn and they swing really far out," Smith listed off.
Then after probable cause, there are three field sobriety tests Smith will conduct including the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus.
"If you think of the eyeball as a marble rolling across a glass table, your eye moves smooth and it doesn't bounce," said Smith. Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking. So think of the marble rolling across the same table with small pieces of sand and it kind of jumps. That's a sign they're intoxicated."
Smith posted up on Lafayette's south side Wednesday morning until a car caught his eye off Veterans Memorial Parkway about 2:30 a.m. The driver was accused of straddling two lanes, and then probable cause came.
"I could see an open container," Smith said. "She admitted to having a margarita and she's kind of slurring her words. Her eyes are a little bloodshot so I will pull her out of the car and run her through some field sobriety."
She failed the tests and blew a .1 blood alcohol concentration at the scene. She complied and was taken to the hospital for a blood and urine sample.
Sometimes, Smith says it's not that easy. If a person will not consent, the officer will apply for a warrant and will have to wake up a judge. The process can take several hours.
"We got our results back and she was .11," said Smith at the hospital. "That is above the legal limit of .08. We will take her to jail and she will be charged with just a misdemeanor. As soon as she's sober enough, she will be released."
It doesn't end there. You will be given a court date and if you don't appear, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. LPD said the average cost of an OWI is about $10,000 including car towing, attorney fees, court costs, and lost time at work.
Smith said that's the best scenario.
"That person could have either lost their life," said Smith. "I'm saving that mom that's going to work they could have potentially hit, or the van full of kids. That's why I take a lot or pride in finding OWI's."
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