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Site facilitates OWI alcohol test records search

Law enforcement expects website to be positive tool

October 11, 2012
By PETER KASPARI, pkaspari@messengernews.net , Messenger News

A website recently created by an Iowa law enforcement agency hopes to educate the public about drunk driving, while also helping attorneys and law enforcement do their jobs.

The Breath Alcohol Testing website, which was officially reintroduced to the public Wednesday, was created by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

The site includes a searchable database where the public can find results of every breath test law enforcement officers perform on suspected drunk drivers statewide. Also on the site are descriptions of the tools police officers use to test breath alcohol levels and a database of law enforcement officers and their certifications.

DCI Criminalist Jim Bleskachek came up with the idea for the site about 4 1/2 years ago after seeing other states with similar programs.

"It makes people aware that we have, in my opinion, a serious drinking and driving problem in the state of Iowa," Bleskachek said Wednesday. "Public awareness was one of my goals when planning the site."

Bleskachek said he was able to secure funding, which allowed him to build the site. He said this is the first time Iowa has created an online database that provides detailed information about breath alcohol test results and the tools used by law enforcement.

"All the certification records and officers' training records are available," he said. "The public can see that they're up to date on their training."

The site also helps make prosecutors' work easier, he said.

"We no longer have to mail reports to the county attorneys," Bleskachek said. "Those can all be accessed directly on the website."

The website is updated daily.

"When a test is done in the field, the data is sent to a PC here in the crime laboratory," he said. "That PC then takes out the personal information from the test and sends it to the web developer."

The information provided includes type of test done, time it was done and result, as well as the officer and department that performed the test.

No identifying information about the suspected drunk driver is published online, Bleskachek said.

He believes the data will prove to be useful.

"I have had a couple responses from abuse centers that they can now see the effectiveness from the enforcement," he said. "They can use that data to educate people about the perils of drinking and driving. But it is relatively new, so I'm hoping more and more people get ahold of it."

Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody said the information provided by the site can benefit the public.

"I believe it would be helpful in verifying training for an officer and digging up statistical information for agencies and counties," Carmody said. "It can also help in determining how much alcohol a person can consume without going over the legal limit."

Webster County Attorney Ricki Osborn said the data on the site directly benefits her office and law enforcement.

"One advantage to our office, and local law enforcement, is that the website enables us to check records to see how our numbers compare from year to year and with other counties," she said.

The site shows an increase in the amount of drunk driving arrests, she said, but it also shows that law enforcement is on the lookout for those suspects.

Bleskachek wants Iowans to use the site.

"This site is hopefully going to do what I intended," he said. "It'll show OWIs and how many we have, and it'll ease the court system when it comes to the collection of information and data."

The DCI's Breath Alcohol Testing site can be found at breathalcohol.iowa.gov.

 
 

 

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