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State v. Keck

Supreme Court of Indiana

March 25, 2014

STATE OF INDIANA, Appellant (Plaintiff below),
v.
DARRELL L. KECK, Appellee (Defendant below)

Page 1181

Appeal from the Putnam Superior Court, No. 67D01-1202-CM-127. The Honorable Charles D. Bridges, Judge. On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 67A01-1208-CR-362.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Aaron J. Spolarich, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Joel C. Wieneke, Plainfield, Indiana.

Massa, Justice. Dickson, C.J., and Rucker, David, and Rush, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 1182

Massa, Justice.

In this case, the second of two companion cases we decide today, the trial court granted the defendant's motion to suppress the evidence against him on the ground the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop. We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

Around 11 o'clock at night on February 25, 2012, Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy Terry Smith was on duty and driving west on U.S. 36, where the posted speed limit is fifty-five miles per hour. Deputy Smith later testified that the vehicle in front of him was traveling only about forty-three miles per hour, so he followed it as it came to a complete stop and turned onto County Road 100 East, a two-way road with no center line. Deputy Smith testified the vehicle proceeded to travel " down the middle of the roadway" for about a quarter of a mile before he activated his lights and initiated a traffic stop. The driver, Darrell L. Keck, was traveling with a single passenger, Travis R. Grimes.

During the traffic stop, Deputy Smith noticed Keck's eyes were bloodshot and he smelled of alcohol. He also noticed an open case of beer in the front seat with several cans missing. After Keck admitted he had three beers that evening, Deputy Smith proceeded to conduct three sobriety tests. Keck failed two of them, so Deputy Smith conducted a breath test, which showed Keck had a breath-alcohol level of 0.14. At that point, Deputy Smith handcuffed Keck and took him to the Putnam County Jail, where a second breath test showed Keck had a breath-alcohol level of 0.11.

The State charged Keck with two Class C misdemeanors: operating a vehicle

Page 1183

while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent of 0.08 or more. Keck, by counsel, moved to suppress the evidence against him. At the suppression hearing, Deputy Smith testified that although Keck may have been traveling under the speed limit and come to a full stop before turning left, neither of those actions constituted traffic violations. He also testified that County Road 100 East is a mixture of gravel and hard surface, and that it had at least two " chuckholes" in it on the night in question. Grimes testified the vehicle did not come to a full stop before turning left and that County Road 100 East is in such " terrible" condition that Keck had to drive " a little slower" than normal and left of center because it is impossible to drive in the right-hand area of the roadway " without hitting every hole in the road." Trans. at 22. Finally, Keck himself testified, stating he " slowed down to maybe five mile an hour" before he turned onto County Road 100 East. Trans. at 32. He said he travels on ...


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