Over the years one common question people have when arrested for owi has been the location of the arrest and its impact on whether a case can be tossed out of court.
People who have taken the time to understand the law prior to a call are often optimistic at the chances of beating a case in court when an arrest occurs on private property. Most often such a fact pattern centers on a police officer who follows a person for suspected drunk driving for a certain period of time, but doesn’t initiate the arrest until the alleged driver has gone home to a private residence.
Within such a fact pattern the person investigated and later arrested is often hostile to the notion that an officer can violate his or her rights by initiating a criminal arrest on one’s own private driveway.
Most people, familiar with constitutional rights and protections grow frustrated at an arresting officer during such a circumstance. This frustration usually causes emotions to escalate that have on many occasions prompted the filing of additional charges associated with such an arrest, namely resisting law enforcement and/or disorderly conduct against people who believe that they have the right to resist an unlawful arrest.
Unlike other case circumstances where an arrest warrant and/or search warrant must usually be obtained prior to police action on private property, such is often not the case when considering an owi arrest occurring on the private property of an individual suspected of drunk driving in Johnson County.
This is so due to the legal term known as “exigent circumstances.” Exigent circumstances classify excusable police conduct that allows for a legal arrest to take place on private property (or other circumstances) without the requirement for a warrant to be obtained.
The rationale for this is that one who has the capability for escape while within a motor vehicle in a potential state of intoxication has the capability to cause great risk to the safety of the general public.
As a result, the “exigency” or emergency during such a suspect event of drunk driving allows for the arrest and detainment of such a person who otherwise could become a flight risk able to cause immediate harm to those around them. To rule otherwise could potentially cause this expressed harm to take place during the time taken to secure a judicial warrant approval from a Johnson county judge.
Of course people in many such instances could question the true exigency of such a fact pattern where someone could easily be monitored so as to not allow for the operation of a motor vehicle when parked in one’s driving following an observed stop.
However, Indiana law as in most if not all state jurisdictions will allow for such a stop, detainment and arrest of suspected drunk drivers where probable cause for such an arrest has been established that the vehicle has been operated in a state of intoxication on a public road in Johnson County.
In far fewer case patterns yet equally important is the suspected operation of a motor vehicle on one’s private property in a state of intoxication during the totality of the driving activity. Such cases in Johnson County are often those associated with ATV or other recreational motorized vehicles that are used by riders on farms with vast acreage that can support such driving activity.
In such cases the discussion is far different as no cited public roadway illegality can be supported to justify the exigent circumstances of an arrest for activity wholly committed on one’s own private property. Other than danger to oneself, intoxicated driving activity on one’s own property for the duration of the driving activity causes no intended or actual danger to the general public.
As such, a competent defense lawyer should fight for the preservation of a citizen’s constitutional rights in all such circumstances even in drunk driving prosecutions that almost always otherwise relate to driving activity that in some way touches upon the use of public roadways.