APPEAL FROM THE ALLEN SUPERIOR COURT, The Honorable James W. Jackson, Judge, Cause No. CR-86-336.
Conover, J., Miller, P.j., and Ratliff, C.j., concur.
Defendant-Appellant Nathaniel Johnson (Johnson) appeals his conviction for operating a motor vehicle while his driving privileges were suspended. IC 9-12-3-1.
Because we reverse, we address only one issue, whether Johnson was "operating" a motor vehicle within the meaning of IC 9-12-3-1.
On June 25, 1986, Officer Daniel Taylor (Taylor) observed a 1976 gold Mark IV automobile parked off the roadway on Indianapolis Boulevard in Allen County. Taylor stopped to investigate and found Johnson in the driver's seat. Johnson explained the car was disabled and demonstrated the car would not start. Taylor asked Johnson for identification and ran a routine check on Johnson's license. Taylor learned Johnson's driving privileges had been revoked. He arrested Johnson for operating a motor vehicle while his driving privileges were suspended.
Johnson explained he had not been driving the car, the car would not start. He was waiting for a friend to return with a tow. Two witnesses corroborated this story at trial. The State presented no evidence Johnson had driven the car or that the car was operable at the time of Johnson's arrest. Johnson was convicted at a jury trial. From this conviction he appeals.
The statute here involved is IC 9-12-3-1:
Operating motor vehicle while privileges are suspended; Class D felony; additional penalty
Sec. 1. (a) A person who operates a motor vehicle:
while his driving privileges are suspended under IC 9-12-2; or in violation of restrictions imposed under IC 9-12-2;
commits a Class D felony.
(b) In addition to any criminal penalty, a person who is convicted of a felony under subsection (a) forfeits the privilege of operating a motor vehicle ...