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Drunken driving conviction affirmed; lesser included charge vacated

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A Marion Superior Court conviction in a drunken driving case was affirmed Thursday by the Indiana Court of Appeals, but the court ordered a lesser included charge on which the driver was convicted be merged.

The court ruled in Brenda Stutz v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1110-CR-960, that Stutz’s conviction for Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.15 percent should stand, but remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to vacate a lesser included conviction for Class C misdemeanor operating while intoxicated, holding that the two charges should be merged.

The court noted that the General Assembly amended the state’s drunken driving statutes in 2000, creating Class C misdemeanor violations in which the “endangerment” requirement was removed.

“Clearly, the classification of operating a vehicle with a BAC of at least .15 percent as a class A misdemeanor and that of driving while intoxicated as a class C misdemeanor is evidence that the legislature has determined that the former offense constitutes a greater risk than the latter offense,” Judge Carr Darden wrote in a unanimous opinion.

Stutz cited Sering v. State, 488 N.E.2d 369 (Ind. Ct. App. 1986), in which a defendant appealed his convictions for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .10 percent and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, which at the time were Class A and Class C misdemeanors respectively. That ruling held that the risk of someone operating at a level above .10 percent is greater than that of a driver who is intoxicated to a lesser degree. “This legislative intent is evidenced by the disparate classification of the two offenses,” the court ruled in Sering.

 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

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  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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