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Monday, October 29, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Still more on "Driving For Miles With Blinker On is Not a Crime"

Updating this ILB entry from earlier today, an “attorney who works with law enforcement” has sent this note:

I just wanted to drop you a line regarding the decision handed down in State v. Killebrew, which has received significant attention on your blog and through other media outlets. The decision rested on the normal turn signal statutes, IC 9-21-8-25 and 9-21-8-26, and the court held that it is not a violation of those statutes to drive for an extended distance with a turn signal on without actually making a turn.

However, I think there is another statute that the court seems to have missed that specifically prohibits driving with a flashing light on your vehicle. Indiana Code 9-21-7-11 states that a vehicle “may not display flashing lights” unless there is a statutory exception under subsection (b) of section 11. One of the exceptions where a person can display a flashing light is “as a means of indicating a right or left turn.” The logical inference is that if a person continually drives his vehicle with its turn signal on, but is not using the signal to indicate his intention to turn, then he is driving a vehicle while displaying a flashing light in violation of IC 9-21-7-11. This would justify a traffic stop.

ILB: Appreciative as I am for the note, I don't agree. The Indiana Code chapter IC 9-21-8 deals with "Vehicle Operation." Section 25 provides:
A signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during not less than the last two hundred (200) feet traveled by a vehicle before turning or changing lanes. A vehicle traveling in a speed zone of at least fifty (50) miles per hour shall give a signal continuously for not less than the last three hundred (300) feet traveled by the vehicle before turning or changing lanes.
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9.
On the other hand, Indiana Code chapter 9-21-7 deals with "Vehicle Equipment." The chapter is a combination of provisions about equipment and provisions about their operation. Section 11 provides:
(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a vehicle may not display flashing lights.
(b) Flashing lights may be displayed on a vehicle as follows:
(1) On an authorized emergency vehicle.
(2) On a school bus.
(3) On snow-removal equipment.
(4) As a means of indicating a right or left turn.
(5) As a means of indicating the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring unusual care in approaching, overtaking, or passing.
(6) On a vehicle used in a funeral procession.
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9. Amended by P.L.80-2012, SEC.4.
IC 9-21-8-25, the law cited in the Killebrew opinion, at least specifies how many feet before the actual turn the signal is to be given.

IC 9-21-7-11 contains no such parameters. Sec. 11 prohibits a display of flashing lights with specified exceptions including: (b)(4) As a means of indicating a right or left turn. Nothing more. The writer says to have your turn signal on "continuously" violates the statute. But what is "continuously"? The provision seems to me to be too vague to use in the way the writer urges; the court would have to add the parameters itself. Thoughts?

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 29, 2012 04:20 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions