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Court: daylight saving time not an issue

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A trial judge shouldn't have suppressed a drunk-driving breath test on grounds that a time change interfered with the prosecution, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today on an issue of first impression.

Deciding on State of Indiana v. Jason Cioch, No. 79S05-0902-CR-00092, justices unanimously found that Tippecanoe Superior Judge Michael Morrissey erred when he suppressed the prosecution's evidence on a traffic infraction and two drunk-driving misdemeanors from the late 2007 incident.

On Nov. 10, 2007, Purdue University Police Department officers stopped Cioch for traveling in the wrong direction on a one-way street and suspected he was driving while intoxicated. Another certified officer used a B.A.C. Datamaster to administer the test, but he noticed the device hadn't been adjusted to reflect the daylight saving time change the previous Sunday. He contacted several other law enforcement agencies but couldn't find a breath test instrument with the correct time. As he couldn't change the time himself, the officer administered the test and one of the other officers noted the time difference in his incident report - both were within three hours of the officers stopping Cioch.

The tests showed his alcohol level was 0.08, but Cioch moved to suppress the results because of the DST difference. The trial judge granted the motion because of the inaccurate time stamp on the breath test printout, finding that prosecutors failed to meet their burden of establishing an adequate foundation for admitting the evidence. The Court of Appeals affirmed in a not-for-publication memorandum opinion in December.

Noting that Indiana courts haven't yet discussed the accuracy of the time stamp relating to test-result reliability, justices turned to caselaw from the Missouri Court of Appeals that held an inaccurate time stamp isn't evidence of a malfunction or faulty finding.

The Cioch case presents nothing to show that the certified breath test administrator did anything wrong or endangered the test reliability, Indiana's justices noted, adding that Cioch's best authority for his position comes from State v. Johanson, 695 N.E.2d 965 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998), where the appellate court affirmed a trial judge's suppression of test results where the machine printed out a blank ticket and the operator wrote all the test information by hand from what he saw on the screen.

"Without reflecting on whether that was adequate ground for suppression, we think the officer's action in this instance, noting a Daylight Savings difference, raises only a de minimus concern about the accuracy of the test results," Chief Justice Randall Shepard wrote. "We hold that the evidence is admissible."

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. "...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.

  4. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

  5. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

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