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Judges decline to find OWI statute unconstitutional

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a man’s claim that the statute proscribing the operation of a vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance violates the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Indiana Constitution.

Chad E. Hucker was charged with Class C misdemeanors operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance. He was pulled over by police after a patron at a liquor store reported Hucker may be driving while intoxicated. Hucker told officers his seemingly intoxicated behavior may be a result of recently taking his prescription Xanax.

At his jury trial, Hucker testified he had a prescription for the drug but admitted to taking it in excess of the recommended dosage on the day of the incident.

In Chad E. Hucker v. State of Indiana, 35A02-1307-CR-575, Hucker challenged the second prong of the Collins test regarding Section 23: The preferential treatment must be uniformly applicable and equally available to all persons similarly situated. He argued that members within the identified class are treated unequally because criminal exposure under the statute varies depending on the dosage of drug taken, whether an individual is a chronic user, the nature of the metabolite, and other arguments.

“The second prong of the Collins test requires that a statute must apply equally and uniformly to all persons who share those characteristics that are the basis of the classification,” Judge Margret Robb wrote. “Assuming it is proper under Section 23 to create classifications based on persons who drive with a schedule I or II controlled substance and persons who do not, Indiana Code section 9-30-5-1(c) is not unconstitutional.”

He also argued that the statute treats as identical a number of controlled substances that have varying effects on the body. Robb noted this is a fair point, but one that is better placed before the General Assembly.

“The disparate treatment to persons who operate a vehicle with a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance is reasonably related to inherent characteristics among those persons — namely, the usage of those controlled substances causes impairment and the amount necessary to cause impairment is not easily quantifiable. Given the ‘substantial deference’ we must provide the General Assembly in generating such classifications, we cannot find the statute unconstitutional under Section 23.”

 

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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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