Spending most of my time in the great City of Indianapolis, I often notice many different types of vehicles. I notice cars with that lavish look and others that look like a wrecked car frame attached to an engine. Seeing these types of “clunkers” made me remember car inspections when I lived in New Jersey. All the car lights would be inspected, how much exhaust the car produced and how quickly the car could come to a complete stop when traveling at a high speed.

I recently read an article in the Indiana Lawyer newspaper regarding a traffic stop for a broken tail light. The vehicle was pulled over because there was “more white than red light’ coming from the tail light. As the officer approached the vehicle to communicate with the driver, he smelled marijuana and had the driver charged with a Class A misdemeanor for possession. The driver was found guilty in a Howard County court. The driver appealed the verdict claiming his tail light was up to standard pursuant to Indiana Code § 9-19-6-4 as his tail light was visible from at least 500 feet and should have never been pulled over to begin with.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed stating that the Indiana Code does not state the tail light had to be predominantly red, just that the red light had to be visible from 500 feet. The court of appeals determined that there was no evidence the arresting officer observed the car from 500 feet and ruled the driver should have never been pulled over, suppressing his possession charges.

It’s articles like these that amaze me how you can work your way out of a legal situation based on technicalities and procedure. Interpreting Indiana codes and other policies or procedures can be difficult, putting yourself at risk for making your legal situation even more complicated. It is important to first consider finding a legal professional to review your situation before taking on the courts yourself.

“Criminal-Traffic Stop/Reasonable Suspicion.” Indiana Lawyer 17 Dec. 2014, Vol. 25 No. 21