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Dunham v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

January 24, 2019

Robert E. Dunham, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          APPEAL FROM THE HENRY CIRCUIT COURT THE HONORABLE DAVID L. MCCORD, JUDGE TRIAL COURT CAUSE NO. 33C03-1803-IF-868

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT JON A. KEYES ALLEN WELLMAN MCNEW HARVEY, LLP GREENFIELD, INDIANA

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE CURTIS T. HILL, JR. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA TYLER G. BANKS DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

          SHEPARD, SENIOR JUDGE.

         [¶1] The General Assembly has established a weight limit for heavy equipment on highways, but there is an exception for farm drainage machinery. Robert E. Dunham appeals the trial court's determination that he violated the weight limit, a Class C infraction, [1] claiming his equipment fell under the exception. We reverse.

         Issue

         [¶2] Dunham raises three issues, which we restate as: whether the court erred in determining he was guilty of a Class C infraction.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] The facts are not in dispute. Robert Dunham worked for Drainage Construction Unlimited, Inc. (DCU), a company specializing in farm drainage work. The Henry County Drainage Board hired DCU to install drain tiles at a farm near the intersection of Interstate 70 and Indiana Highway 3.

         [¶4] On February 26, 2018, Dunham installed drain tiles on the farm using an excavator. When he was finished, Dunham put the excavator on a trailer and towed the trailer away from the farm by truck.

         [¶5] On the way back to DCU's office, Dunham was pulled over by Indiana State Trooper Todd Wallace. Dunham told Wallace he had been doing excavation work for the county. Wallace asked Indiana State Trooper Brandon Steffey to weigh the truck, trailer, and excavator. This was accomplished, and Steffey determined the truck, trailer, and excavator collectively weighed 85, 300 pounds, in violation of the statutory limit of 80, 000 pounds.

         [¶6] Steffey issued a citation to Dunham for exceeding the weight limit. Appellant's App. Vol. 2, p. 6. Dunham contested the ticket, and the trial court held a bench trial on May 11, 2018. The court determined Dunham was guilty of a Class C infraction and imposed a fine of $35.50, plus $135.50 in court costs.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶7] Dunham argues the trial court erred in determining he had violated the weight limit for heavy equipment on state highways. The parties agree this appeal presents a question of law, which we review de novo with no deference to the ...


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