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Justifiable reason to stop driver enough to confirm subsequent conviction

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Although a police officer began following a pick-up truck after he mistakenly ran the wrong license plate number, the driver’s conviction will stand because the officer did not initiate the stop until he observed the driver make a traffic violation.

Jose Santana appealed his conviction of a Class C felony operating a motor vehicle while privileges are forfeited for life. He was pulled over by Goshen Police Officer Todd Burks after Santana failed to signal a turn less than 200 feet before turning.

Santana argued Burks did not have a valid reason for stopping his truck. He asserted the stop was improper because the officer got the license plate number incorrect.

When Burks ran Santana’s license plate, he omitted one digit and got a report that indicated the truck did not have the proper plate. For this reason, the officer started following the truck but maintained he did not pull Santana over until Santana activated his turn signal 100 to 150 feet before he turned.

Burks pointed to Indiana Code 9-21-8-25 which requires turn signals be activated at least 200 feet before turning or changing lanes.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction in Jose M. Santana v. State of Indiana, 20A04-1302-CR-54.

Citing Turner v. State, 862 N.E.2d 695, 699 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007), the Court of Appeals ruled Burks may not have followed Santana if he had entered the correct license number, but the officer still had an objectively justifiable reason to stop the driver.  

 

 

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  1. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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