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Hucker v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 26, 2014

CHAD E. HUCKER, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

APPEAL FROM THE HUNTINGTON SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Jeffrey Heffelfinger, Judge. Cause No. 35D01-1209-CM-644.

FOR APPELLANT: CASEY C. MORGAN, Matheny, Hahn, Denman & Nix, L.L.P., Huntington, Indiana.

FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; JUSTIN F. ROEBEL, Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

ROBB, Judge. BARNES, J., and BROWN, J., concur.

Page 798

OPINION

ROBB, Judge.

Case Summary and Issue

Chad E. Hucker appeals his convictions for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance, both Class C misdemeanors. Hucker raises a single issue for our review: whether Indiana Code section 9-30-5-1(c), which proscribes the operation of a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance, violates Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution (the "Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause"). Concluding the statute does not violate the Indiana Constitution's Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause, we affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

On the evening of September 17, 2012, Hucker went to the Save On Liquor Store in Huntington, Indiana, to purchase alcohol. Another patron in the store, Courtney Finney, saw Hucker and noticed that he was acting peculiarly. Hucker had slow, slurred speech. He was swaying back and forth and even lost his balance and fell at one point. Hucker left the liquor store after he was refused service. Shortly after, Finney left the store and witnessed Hucker in the parking lot, where he seemed to be struggling to get into his vehicle. Finney observed Hucker sit in his car for several minutes before driving out of the parking lot and running over a curb on his way out. Finney then contacted the police to report a possible intoxicated driver.

Huntington City Police Officer Whitney Stoffel was dispatched to investigate. Upon observing Hucker's vehicle drift out of its lane and follow another vehicle too closely, Officer Stoffel initiated a traffic stop. Officer Stoffel observed signs of intoxication, and Hucker explained that his behavior may be a result of recently taking his prescription Xanax. Hucker performed three field sobriety tests. He passed the horizontal gaze nystagmus test but failed the one leg stand and walk and turn tests. Officer Stoffel informed Hucker of the Indiana Implied Consent Law, and Hucker agreed to submit to a urinalysis test. He tested positive for benzodiazepine in excess of 1500 ng/mL and THC Metabolite of 114 ng/mL.

Page 799

Hucker was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance, Class C misdemeanors. A jury trial was held May 2, 2013, at which Hucker testified in his own defense. Hucker testified he had a prescription for Xanax but admitted to taking it in excess of the recommended dosage on the day of the incident. Hucker also admitted to smoking marijuana but said he last smoked ...


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