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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 expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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