– Δ was a passenger in a vehicle. An officer “observed the car had a cracked windshield that was ‘obstructing view,’ and he initiated a traffic stop.” Id. At 185. After the vehicle was stopped, Δ was arrested and charged with possession of drugs. “To assess the totality of the circumstances, we must consider both the degree of intrusion into the subject’s ordinary activities and the basis upon which the officer selected the subject of the search or seizure. Factors we balance include: (1) the degree of concern, suspicion, or knowledge that a violation has occurred, (2) the degree of intrusion the method of the search or seizure imposes on the citizens’ ordinary activities, and (3) the extent of law enforcement needs.” Id. at 186. “[E]ven though the legislature did not expressly prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle with a broken or cracked windshield . . . if a vehicle is operated in such an unsafe condition by virtue of the conditions of its windshield, as to endanger the driver or any other person, a violation has occurred. . . The issue is whether [the Officer] had a reasonable suspicion, based upon specific and articulable facts, that [the] vehicle was in the proscribed dangerous condition.” Id. At 186. The officer “testified the windshield was cracked sufficiently to obstruct the driver’s view. This evidence was sufficient to support his reasonable belief that a traffic stop was required to determine whether the obstruction made the vehicle sufficiently unsafe warrant a traffic citation.” Id. At 186. The officer’s actions were reasonable. TD v. State, 873 N.E.2d 184 (Ind. App. 2007) Indiana Court of Appeals – 9/13/07
– An officer observed that Δ was driving a vehicle and that “the vehicle’s windshield was badly cracked.” Id. at 1209. The officer stopped the vehicle and eventually found drugs. The officer’s reason for stopping the vehicle was that Δ was “operating an unsafe vehicle.” Id. at 1210. “Under the fourth amendment, a police officer who lacks probable cause but whose observations lead him reasonably to suspect that a particular person is committing a crime may detain that person briefly in order to investigate the circumstances that provoke suspicion. Although stopping a car and detaining its occupant constitutes a seizure within the meaning of the fourth amendment, the governmental interest in investigating an officer’s reasonable suspicion, based on specific and articulable facts, may outweigh the fourth amendment interest of the occupant in remaining secure from the intrusion. Since the State has a legitimate interest in insuring that motor vehicles are fit for safe operation, we must consider whether the situation presented here is one in which there is at least articulable and reasonable suspicion that either the vehicle or its occupant was properly subject to a seizure for a violation of law.” Id. at 1210. I.C. 9-4-1-126 [which has been repealed] prohibits driving on any highway any motor vehicle unless the vehicle’s equipment is in good working order as required by statute ‘and said vehicle is in such safe mechanical condition as not to endanger the driver . . . . or any person upon the highway.’ A person who violates this section commits a class C infraction. I.C. 9-4-1-127.1(b). I.C. 9-8-6-2(a)(1981) also makes it a class C infraction for a person to operate on any highway any vehicle . . . . which is in such an unsafe condition as to endanger any person, which does not contain those parts or is not at all times equipped with such lamps and other equipment in proper condition and adjustment as required in this chapter, or which is equipped in any manner in violation of this chapter.” Id. at 1210. “[E]ven though the legislature did not expressly prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle with a broken or cracked windshield as Pease argues, if a vehicle is operated in such an unsafe condition, by virtue of the condition of its windshield, as to endanger the driver or any other person, a violation has occurred.” Id. at 1210. The vehicle had “one deep break in the windshield running diagonally across the passenger’s side of the windshield from the hood to the roof. The main break is comprised of three or four long, parallel cracks with a star-shaped focal point at each end. Each focal point has multiple cracks radiating from it, the smaller being approximately four to five inches in diameter. . . damage to the passenger side of the windshield appears more extensive, with many focal points and several large cracks, suggesting the possibility of chipping glass and obscured vision through the passenger’s side.” Id. at 1210-1211. The officer “acted reasonably in stopping Pease to investigate further the extent of the damage; they provide an objective basis for evaluating the officer’s suspicion the vehicle was being operated in an unsafe and endangering condition . . . the damage was sufficiently extensive to lead a reasonably prudent person to believe that the vehicle, when driven, created a dangerous situation for those entering the area where the driver’s peripheral vision is obscured by the breakage. While the damage may not wholly block the driver’s view, the numerous cracks and their location would make it difficult at best to discern objects in that area.” Id. at 1211. State v. Pease, 531 N.E.2d 1207 (Ind. App. 1988).
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