Local officers undergo training for new DUI testing instrument

Officers from Warren, Youngsville, and Conewango Township as well as Sheriff’s Deputies participated in a four day Intoxilyzer training.

There’s a new way to test blood alcohol levels in the county.

Warren County officers from the city of Warren, Youngsville Borough, Conewango Township, and Warren County Sheriff’s deputies have been working on a week-long training to use the new Intoxilyzer 9000. The newest instrument for breath testing, said Youngsville Borough police chief Todd Mineweaser, will simplify and expedite DUI cases.

Currently, said Mineweaser, chemical testing for alcohol and other drugs that’s run in the course of a DUI investigation uses blood. If a person refuses a blood test, said Mineweaser, a warrant must be obtained in order to obtain a sample.

Even when a person doesn’t refuse chemical testing, said Mineweaser, laboratory testing of blood samples for DUI investigations takes around six weeks. The sample is evidence and as such must be logged and stored under specific conditions in a police agency’s evidence room.

With the Intoxilyzer, anyone arrested who is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol can now be transported to the Warren County Jail for breath testing rather than the hospital for blood testing. Furthermore, the printout of the results, which is generated immediately upon completion of the testing, is available to the defendant at the same time that it’s available to the officer.

Defendants are then able to go to court with the same evidence in hand that officers will be showing up with.

State police also have a breath test instrument, said Mineweaser, making this the second in the county but the one that will be shared among officers throughout all agencies other than state police. The training for officers using the Intoxilyzer — according to Training Program Coordinator Tom Winters, who provided the four-day training for the Institute for Law Enforcement Education, a division of the Pennsylvania Department of Education — includes both practical skill demonstration as well as a written test.

Officers are being trained to operate the new instrument, as well as to calibrate and supervise its use, said Winters. The Intoxilyzer must be certified to be working properly every 30 days and it must be calibrated annually. Each officer’s training must be carefully documented as well.

In total, Mineweaser said, five sheriff’s deputies, four city officers, two patrol officers from Conewango Township, and three Youngsville Borough officers were trained either to use or supervise use of the instrument at this week’s training.