Just like in Barnes v. State, the law seems to favor “public safety” over intrusion into privacy, something our Forefathers warned heavily against. This time, it isn’t the courts blazing the new trail, it’s the Indiana General Assembly: Northwest Indiana Times, “Judge Grills Indiana Attorney Over Immigration Law, 20 June 2011.
The Indiana General Assembly recently passed an Immigration Reform Bill, Indiana Senate Enrolled Act 590 (S.E.A. 590-2011) which brings about sweeping reforms similar to the controversial bill passed in Arizona two (2) short years ago. Just like the Arizona Bill, law enforcement officers now have the authority to make a traffic stop, search, and arrest suspects they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe are in Indiana illegally.
What does it come down to? Another “catch all” tool for law enforcement to use to stop whatever cars they wish to. No longer do they have to look for burned out license plate lights or cracked tail light lenses or “swerving” or “left of center”. There is a whole list of “reasonable suspicion” you will find in every probable cause affidavit issued by police, but these are almost always pretextual. In other words, your license plate light may be in fact out, but that has nothing to do with why the officer actually wants to make the traffic stop. With the new provision, “Driving While Brown” becomes a widespread offense, and it is difficult at best to know you are violating the law. You might want to watch to make sure that summer tan doesn’t get too intense…a traffic stop, search, and possible arrest may result.
BUT–AGAIN–rest assured, law enforcement will not use this as a pretext to conduct otherwise illegal searches. You can always trust law enforcement with the preservation of the Fourth Amendment…