Family of fatal crash victim want blood draw law changed

David Clouser was killed in a 2010 crash in Hamilton County.
Published:
Updated:

After a deadly accident, you might assume all drivers are tested for drugs or alcohol. But a Carmel family was shocked to learn that's not the case here in Indiana.

Now, the family is pushing for a change in state law.

Angela Clouser is on a mission to help victims of deadly crashes, like the one that killed her father in Hamilton County in December 2010.

"He left for work that morning, just like any other morning and he didn't come home," Clouser said.

David Clouser, 65, who made his living keeping truck drivers safe, died when a trucker blew through a red light and slammed into his van. The semi driver refused a breathalyzer and refused a blood test on the scene.

Clouser's family was frustrated to learn that by law, that was okay. In Indiana, chemical tests are not required - even in a crash where someone is killed.

"If there's not probable cause, then there's no basis for a judge to order a blood draw to be taken," explained Hamilton County Prosecutor Lee Buckingham. "Although Indiana has an implied consent law, there's not a true implied consent, because the only way we can force someone to submit to a chemical test is if probable cause exists. So if there's an accident and if someone appears normal, there's no basis for probable cause."

In the Clouser case, the semi driver had no obvious signs of impairment. He was taken away in handcuffs, but refused all chemical tests. In the end, he was not criminally charged and only received infractions on his driver's license for that deadly wreck.

But for the victim's family, questions remain - was there something police couldn't see or smell that day?

"You know, if it was truly just an accident, then that's one thing. But we don't know that and we'll never know that," Clouser said. "Maybe they might not have found anything in his system, maybe they would have, but it's just another question that the family needs answered."

A handful of states, like Texas and Maine, do require mandatory testing for all drivers in any fatal crash. Angela Clouser is now lobbying Indiana lawmakers to do the same.

"It should be an automatic draw," she said.

"From the law enforcement perspective, it would enable them to do a more thorough, complete investigation," Buckingham said.

From a victim's perspective, automatic testing would provide peace of mind at a time of terrible loss.

"The law needs to change so other families don't have to have that unanswered question or the possibility that the person that killed their loved one walks free," Clouser said.

The Clousers have created a Facebook page dedicated to support for a law change and increased truck safety on the roads.