The use of sobriety checkpoints does not violate the separation of powers provision in the state’s constitution, the
Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.
Philip Cleer, who was convicted of Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration between 0.08
and 0.15, argued the checkpoints violate the Indiana Constitution’s separation of powers provision because conducting
checkpoints isn’t specifically authorized by the Indiana General Assembly. Cleer was directed by Indiana State Police
to pull into a checkpoint in Indianapolis, where he failed three field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol content of 0.08.
Cleer claims the General Assembly only authorized the detention of a person when a “law enforcement officer believes
in good faith that a person has committed an infraction or ordinance violation. …” Because he didn’t
commit any infraction or ordinance violation when he was directed into the checkpoint, Cleer argues the police were without
a legislative basis to detain him. But the appellate court rejected his argument in Philip Cleer v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0912-CR-1193.
“To the extent Indiana Code Section 34-28-5-3 is considered the legislative authorization to detain a person suspected
of committing an infraction or ordinance violation, there is no indication that the General Assembly has denied law enforcement
the ability to detain a person suspected of committing a misdemeanor or a felony,” wrote Judge Michael Barnes. “Further,
Cleer cites no authority for the proposition that the General Assembly is required to specifically authorize detention in
all criminal investigations.”
Without more evidence, Cleer failed to show that the checkpoint violated the separations of powers provision of the state’s
constitution, the judges unanimously concluded.