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Justices: No drunk driving on private property

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A person driving drunk can be arrested even if they are driving on private property, including their own property, ruled the Indiana Supreme Court Wednesday.

The high court reversed the trial court's grant of Adam Manuwal's motion to suppress evidence following his arrest for two Class A misdemeanors, operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person and operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent of 0.15 or more, after driving an all-terrain vehicle on his own property and crashing. Police suspected Manuwal had been drinking and had blood drawn at the hospital.

After the trial court granted Manuwal's motion to supress, the state dismissed the charges and brought this appeal in State of Indiana v. Adam L. Manuwal, No. 50S05-0805-CR-269, pursuant to statutory authority. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

The state argued the language of Indiana Code Sections 9-30-5-1(b) and -2 isn't restricted to just vehicles driven on public thoroughfares and Indiana's interest in protecting citizens extends to private property. Manuwal argued the caselaw that has applied the statutes prohibiting drunk driving to operating on private property only where it's probable the driver might come in contact with the public shouldn't be extended to a driver's use of their vehicle on their own property.

After examining the statutes at issue in this case, the justices unanimously agreed regardless of where a defendant's driving occurred, even on his or her own property, the state can charge him or her with intoxicated driving offenses pursuant to I.C. Sections 9-30-5-1(b) and -2, wrote Justice Brent Dickson.

In addition, the Court of Appeals has applied statutes prohibiting operating a vehicle while intoxicated to driving on private property. The Supreme Court declined to address Manuwal's argument that extending the OWI provisions to his own property violate his constitutional rights because he didn't support or develop his claim, and remanded the cause to the trial court.

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  1. Access to the court (judiciary branch of government) is the REAL problem, NOT necessarily lack of access to an attorney. Unfortunately, I've lived in a legal and financial hell for the past six years due to a divorce (where I was, supposedly, represented by an attorney) in which I was defrauded of settlement and the other party (and helpers) enriched through the fraud. When I attempted to introduce evidence and testify (pro se) in a foreclosure/eviction, I was silenced (apparently on procedural grounds, as research I've done since indicates). I was thrown out of a residence which was to be sold, by a judge who refused to allow me to speak in (the supposedly "informal") small claims court where the eviction proceeding (by ex-brother-in-law) was held. Six years and I can't even get back on solid or stable ground ... having bank account seized twice, unlawfully ... and now, for the past year, being dragged into court - again, contrary to law and appellate decisions - by former attorney, who is trying to force payment from exempt funds. Friday will mark fifth appearance. Hopefully, I'll be allowed to speak. The situation I find myself in shouldn't even be possible, much less dragging out with no end in sight, for years. I've done nothing wrong, but am watching a lot of wrong being accomplished under court jurisdiction; only because I was married to someone who wanted and was granted a divorce (but was not willing to assume the responsibilities that come with granting the divorce). In fact, the recalcitrant party was enriched by well over $100k, although it was necessarily split with other actors. Pro bono help? It's a nice dream ... but that's all it is, for too many. Meanwhile, injustice marches on.

  2. Both sites mentioned in the article appear to be nonfunctional to date (March 28, 2017). http://indianalegalanswers.org/ returns a message stating the "server is taking too long to respond" and http://www.abafreelegalasnswers.org/ "can't find the server". Although this does not surprise me, it is disheartening to know that access to the judicial branch of government remains out of reach for too many citizens (for procedural rather than meritorious reasons) of Indiana. Any updates regarding this story?

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