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Officer had probable cause to believe defendant drove while drunk

May 24, 2013

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a man’s petition for judicial review involving his refusal to take a chemical test for intoxication. The judges found the evidence supported that the officer had probable cause that Paul Hassfurther drove his truck while intoxicated and that he knowingly refused to take the chemical test.

A 911 call led Oakland City Lieutenant Timothy Gaines to check out a report of a drunk driver who pulled into a gas station. The caller gave her name, described the truck, and followed it to the gas station. There, Gaines found the driver – Hassfurther – who admitted he had been driving the truck and he had drank the night before. Hassfurther showed signs of intoxication. He refused to take a portable breath test, to which Gaines informed Hassfurther that his license would be suspended for a year. Hassfurther then took that test and alcohol was detected in his system.

After arriving at jail, Gaines told Hassfurther his prior conviction for OWI would result in a two-year suspension if he refused to take the chemical test for intoxication. Hassfurther again refused, and he was later charged with OWI. The state alleged that he knowingly refused to take the chemical test.

He sought judicial review, arguing the officer didn’t have probable cause that he drove drunk, he wasn’t properly advised of his rights, and he didn’t knowingly refuse the chemical text for intoxication.

In Paul Hassfurther v. State of Indiana, 26A01-1208-CR-350, the Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of judicial review. The evidence shows a concerned citizen called 911, Gaines saw Hassfurther display signs of intoxication, and he admitted to police he drove the truck and had been drinking. Gaines also advised Hassfurther several times that his license would be suspended if he refused to submit to the chemical test and told Hassfurther that a prior conviction for OWI would result in a two-year suspension.


 

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