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No constitutional violations in stopping car with interim dealer plate

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Finding an Indianapolis police officer had reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop of a car with an interim dealer plate, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the driver’s conviction of Class C felony operating a motor vehicle after his driving privileges had been forfeited for life.

In Carl Croom v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1304-CR-144, Carl Croom argued that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution that his interim dealer license plate was unregistered.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Bryan Zotz stopped Croom’s vehicle under the mistaken belief that the license plate was expired. About two months before the stop, the state linked newly issued interim dealer plates to the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. It placed the new interim dealer plates in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles system and allowed road officers to have access to the information. The plate on Croom’s car was an old plate, and it did not show up as on file with the BMV when the officer ran it while sitting behind Croom’s vehicle at a traffic light. That’s when Zotz initiated the traffic stop, leading to the discovery that Croom was driving without a valid license.

But the plate was valid; dealers had a stockpile of the old version and were allowed to issue the old plates to buyers.
 
The Indiana Court of Appeals found the stop by Zotz did not violate the U.S. or Indiana constitutions.
 
“The only way for Officer Zotz to determine whether Croom was compliant with the law was to initiate a traffic stop. Because Officer Zotz believed that an interim dealer license plate would only be valid if it was in the newly searchable system, the lack of registration information established reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop. The Supreme Court’s decision in Sanders (v. State, 989 N.E.2d 332, 336 (Ind. 2013)) compels us to find that Officer Zotz’s good-faith reasonable belief that a violation occurred was sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion under the Fourth Amendment,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote.

“Balancing the high degree of concern, suspicion, or knowledge that a violation occurred and the needs of law enforcement against the low degree of intrusion, we conclude that Officer Zotz had reasonable suspicion under Article 1, Section 11. Therefore, we affirm the trial court’s decision to admit the evidence obtained from the traffic stop,” the court held.
 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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