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Indiana Supreme Court: Temporary Tags Must Be Displayed Like Permanent Plates
Posted in Litigation

In a pair of opinions last week, the Indiana Supreme Court held that “under existing unambiguous law a license plate – be it temporary or permanent – must be mounted [outside the vehicle] and illuminated [and visible from a distance of 50 feet] as provided by” Indiana Code sections 9-18-2-26 and 9-19-6-4.

The Court reached this holding in Meredith v. State, in which it concluded that an officer had a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity justifying the stop of a vehicle that had a temporary, dealer-issued plate inside the vehicle and not illuminated.  Applying its holding, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed a trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence discovered after the stop.

The Court then applied its holding in Meredith to a similar stop in Young v. State.  In that case, the defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained after being stopped when an officer could not see the temporary tag on the inside of his vehicle.  The defendant was then arrested for driving with a suspended driver’s license.  Cocaine was found in the car when it was searched prior to impound, and the defendant was convicted of cocaine possession.  The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress that evidence.

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