In the ever emerging modifications to Indiana’s legislative traffic code, a few notable updates have been put forth as of July 1 of this year. Although they bear upon traffic enforcement outside the realm of criminal procedure, they are significant nonetheless due to their prospect to allow police to legally stop vehicles within Hamilton County.
Whereas many drivers could formerly only scoff at the imposition on our public roadways of the proverbial, “Left Lane Cruiser,” impeding the flow of traffic within a passing lane, now such drivers will be subject to enforceable fines for their slow rate of travel.
While customarily the general public scoffs at the left lane cruiser as one presumed to be elderly or a novice driver, I can speak with personal experience that law enforcement is trained to look upon such motorists differently. To traffic cops within Hamilton County those both driving slowly and in an incorrect lane of travel (the passing lane) have more often than not been the focus of impaired driving observation.
Prior to July 1, police officers would need to wait until an actionable traffic violation was committed to stop and question the motorist impeding travel within a passing lane. Now this new legislative enforcement mechanism has given police officers yet another actionable tool with which to more acutely investigate and scrutinize potential driver impairment.
Similarly, young drivers within Hamilton County and throughout the state will soon become even more targeted by traffic enforcement due to the enactment of new mobile device restrictions.
As of July 1, motorists under the age of twenty one will no longer be able to utilize bluetooth or hands free devices of any kind when driving a motor vehicle. The only exception to these new restrictions may occur where a demonstrated emergency necessitating a call to 911 can be documented.
Taking restrictions on youth driving a step further, these new legislative enactments now prohibit a driver under the age of twenty one from transporting any individual under the age of twenty five within their vehicles within the first 6 months of issuance of their drivers license.
BMV spokesman have suggested that these legislative modifications have been enacted to meet the challenge of curbing unsafe driving by youths who are either inexperienced drivers and/or have a greater tendency to be distracted by the use of mobile devices and texting while driving. (The research with which to substantiate such new laws usually lends itself to the conclusion that such age enactments are completely arbitrary)
Some have suggested to me that I tend to be overly conspiratorial in my analysis of such new legislation. While it may be true that these new legal pronouncements have been enacted simply to allow for a more efficient flow of traffic within Hamilton County, I cannot help but think that either a true intended or unintended consequence benefiting owi enforcement behind such legislative action is always at the forefront of such changes to our traffic code.
Liberty from police observation and potential detention of motor vehicles is simply not an actionable priority of state legislators. How often do we as citizens listen to politicians spout platitudes expressing the need to preserve and restore fundamental principals of freedom from governmental intrusion that our founding fathers had intended. However, when elected, new legal changes rarely, if ever, underscore such principals.
Rather, we as citizens within Hamilton County or throughout the state must recognize that each new legislative session is bound to put forth new changes and restrictions to our legal codes that will inevitably further erode our individual liberties under the stated motivation of protecting the public well being. As such, it is imperative to become aware of these new restrictions on driving not only to save ourselves the excess financial penalties of these new driving infractions, but to prevent the far more intrusive detention that can unwittingly result in criminal arrest.