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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. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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