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Marion County OWI: Cut n' Paste Affidavit Is Insufficient

Police officers routinely use pre-written forms or “boilerplates” to aid in preparing reports, including affidavits for probable cause when seeking a search warrant. However, the Indiana Court of Appeals has reinforced that although using forms is permissible, forms used to obtain a search warrant must include at least some detail specific to the case.
In a Marion County OWI case, the Court of Appeals held that blood draw results were inadmissible because the officer's affidavit for probable cause inappropriately used boilerplate. The affidavit did not provide any specific facts regarding whether the defendant was actually driving a vehicle.
The DUI Traffic Stop and Affidavit for Probable Cause
Police stopped a woman’s car in Indianapolis to investigate whether she was operating while intoxicated in Marion County. The woman refused to submit to a chemical test to determine her blood alcohol level. The officer then used a boilerplate form to prepare an affidavit of probable cause seeking a search warrant to obtain a blood draw. In preparing the affidavit, the officer merely checked boxes next to pre-printed paragraphs that generally described standard OWI evidence. The only original information related to indicators of intoxication. There was no original account alleging the defendant had driven a vehicle or committed a traffic offense.  
The woman was charged with two Class A misdemeanors: operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater. The trial court subsequently denied the woman’s motion to exclude evidence obtained by the blood draw. The woman appealed the ruling.
Lack of Specific Information About Driving
On appeal, the Court took issue with the fact that the affidavit never explicitly stated that the woman was operating a vehicle. This is obviously an essential element to the crime of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Although the officer provided a narrative account of evidence that the woman was intoxicated, this does not automatically mean she was driving. As a result, the Court held that the blood draw results were inadmissible at trial.
The Court noted that the magistrate’s job when reviewing affidavits of probable cause is not to determine whether he understands what crime the officer is alleging – it’s to determine whether he has a substantial basis to believe that a crime and evidence of that crime exists. In an OWI case, that requires specific facts supporting an allegation the defendant was driving. Simply checking a box on a pre-printed form does not meet that standard.
Could the State Lack the Evidence Necessary to Convict YOU?
Police can use boilerplate forms to record observations in an investigation. However, to obtain a search warrant for a blood draw, police must record case specific information by which a judge or magistrate can find probable cause that a crime was committed. Simply checking a series of boxes by pre-prepared paragraphs is insufficient.
If the State obtained a search warrant to draw your blood in an OWI case, an experienced criminal attorney can analyze whether the warrant was legal. If you’ve been arrested for operating while intoxicated in Marion County, call Gibson Law Office. We can help.