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Drunken driving conviction affirmed; tipster’s observations reasonable cause

September 12, 2013

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s conviction for Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated Thursday, though one panelist wrote the court went deeper into the analysis of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment claim than it needed to do.

In Brian Russell v. State of Indiana, 46A03-1212-CR-544, the defendant flashed his headlights at a motorist ahead of him on U.S. 421 between Valparaiso and North Judson, and the motorist pulled over. Russell pulled alongside and asked the motorist how to get to another road.

Russell told the motorist he’d been drinking, but the other driver agreed to lead him to his destination. En route, the other motorist called police and arranged to have them positioned at a gas station at the crossroads. Russell was arrested there.

The majority opinion held that the tip, the motorist’s observations and those of the deputy were probable cause. “Because Russell’s rights under the Fourth Amendment and Article I, Section 11 were not violated, the trial court acted within its discretion in admitting evidence obtained as a result of Deputy Hahn’s investigatory stop of Russell’s vehicle,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Melissa May.

Judge Mark Bailey concurred in a separate opinion.

“The majority rightly concludes that Russell has waived any argument under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but then performs that analysis itself, waiver notwithstanding,” Mathias wrote. “Under these circumstances, I would conclude that Russell’s Fourth Amendment contention is waived without moving on to address the issue further.”

 

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