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COA: Driving to avoid potholes isn’t enough to stop car

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the suppression of evidence in a man’s drunken-driving case, finding police did not have reasonable suspicion to pull the man over because he was driving left of center on a county road to avoid poor road conditions.

In State of Indiana v. Darrell Keck, 67A01-1208-CR-362, the state claimed based on I.C. 9-21-8-2(a) – “all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway” – police had reasonable suspicion to pull over Darrell Keck on a county road in Putnam County after seeing him drive slower than usual and left of center.

Portions of the road are covered in gravel and the officer recalled at least two potholes in the road. The officer stopped Keck after seeing him drive for about a half mile in the center portion of the road. The stop led to charges of Class C misdemeanors operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more. Keck filed a motion to suppress, claiming the road conditions were so bad he could not drive safely on the right side of the road. His passenger testified as to the terrible condition of the road.

On appeal, Keck claimed that I.C. 9-21-8-2(b) applies, which allows for someone to drive “as close to practicable on the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” when a person is driving at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under conditions then existing.

“There was evidence before the trial court to support a conclusion subsection (b) applies and Keck was not in violation,” Judge Melissa May wrote, pointing to the officer’s testimony and the testimony of the passenger.
 

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  • Good Job
    Congratulations to Judge Melissa May for getting it right. I live in Marshall County and I always drive in the middle of most county roads,because most county roads are bad. I move to the right when I see uncoming traffic and when I approach a blind hill.

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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