An Indiana State trooper was seriously injured early Wednesday when an alleged intoxicated driver rear-ended his vehicle, while he was responding to another crash in Gary. About midnight, the trooper was parked behind a disabled crashed Mercedes near the center median on I-80/94, east of Burr Street, when 30-year-old Cameron D. Geweniger sped his SUV near that median, prompting another trooper standing outside of the vehicle, to jump over the median to avoid being struck.  The SUV rear-ended the trooper sitting in the parked squad car, and the impact caused the police car to strike the Mercedes and the median wall.  He was rushed to a hospital in serious condition, but is expected to make a full recovery. A subsequent Operating While Intoxicated crash investigation was initiated when officers made observations that lead them to believe that the driver of the Chevrolet may have been impaired.

U.S. drunk driving.

About one in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver, but thanks to dedicated efforts involving driver education, law enforcement check points and ticketing, rates of drunk driving and alcohol-involved fatal crashes have gone down slightly in recent years.

Operating while intoxicated.

OWI stands for “operating while intoxicated” identifying motorists who illegally drive their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If arrested, individuals may face the following penalties for a first time offense:

  • Fees and court costs at a minimum of $300;
  • Maximum fines of $5,000;
  • Maximum prison time of 1 year;
  • Alcohol and drug testing;
  • Two year license suspension;
  • Required attendance at a substance abuse education course and victim impact panel.

If a prior OWI caused death or serious bodily injury, a second OWI carries a penalty fine up to $10,000 and prison for one to six years. The same is true if it’s the second OWI that caused death or injury.

Indiana’s OWI response.

  • Sobriety checkpoints allow police to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible locations to check for impairment.
  • Ignition interlocks installed in cars measure alcohol on the driver’s breath. Interlocks keep the car from starting if the driver has a BAC above a certain level, usually 0.02%.
  • Multi-component interventions involving coalitions or task forces in design and implementation.
  • Mass media campaigns spread messages about the physical dangers and legal consequences of drunk driving.
  • Administrative license revocation, or suspension laws allow police to take away the license of a driver who tests at, or above the legal BAC limit or who refuses testing.
  • Alcohol screening and brief interventions take advantage of “teachable moments” to identify people at risk for alcohol problems and get them treatment as needed.
  • School-based instructional programs are effective at teaching teens not to ride with drunk drivers.

Abide by the Law.

Individuals should be aware of OWI laws and penalties to keep you them from making the unwise decision to drink and drive.  Seek legal counsel immediately after an arrest for OWI in Gary Indiana.