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Tests not required to disprove arrestee intoxication

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In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a woman’s argument that the Indiana Code requires law enforcement personnel to evaluate if there could be other reasons a person is displaying signs of intoxication before arresting her for public intoxication.

Indiana Code 12-23-15-2 says, “An individual to be taken to the city lock-up or county jail shall be evaluated at the earliest possible time for nonalcoholic factors that may be contributing to the appearance of intoxication.”

Annette Pittman was arrested by police officer Ivalee Craney at a gas station on suspicion of public intoxication. Pittman appeared to be drunk and refused to leave the gas station after asked by employees.

Pittman argued on appeal that the state didn’t follow I.C. 12-23-15-2 and determine if some other reason could have caused her speech to be slurred, be unsteady on her feet, and to smell of alcohol. Pittman’s conviction is based solely on Craney’s observation of Pittman’s behavior and condition at the gas station.

The COA found no cases discussing the statute in question and Parker v. State, 530 N.E.2d 128 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998), which discusses the statute’s predecessor, only reflects that the provision does not compel the state to administer a chemical sobriety test or other test.

Pittman claimed the statute requires medical or scientific testing to rule out other causes of intoxication symptoms, but her argument would place a large burden on the state to disprove a subject’s behavior was caused by anything other than alcohol, the judges ruled.
 
“I.C. § 12-23-15-2 did not require Officer Craney, or other law enforcement personnel elsewhere, to perform an evaluation so thorough as to eliminate all other possible causes for each of the symptoms of alcoholic intoxication that Pittman exhibited,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote. “Although we can envision scenarios that would warrant further evaluation, including but not limited to those involving behavior reasonably suggestive of mental illness or dementia, this was not one of them. The dictates of I.C. § 12-23-15-2 were satisfied. This being Pittman’s only challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, the challenge fails.”

 

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