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Two Bills By Steele Move To Senate

Last updated on Thursday, January 19, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Two proposals authored by State Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) now move to the full Indiana Senate after enthusiastic passage by the Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters today.

Both Senate Bill 1 - addressing the right to defend against unlawful home entry - and Senate Bill 154 - regarding operating a motorboat while intoxicated - passed the committee unanimously.

Steele said SB 1 is an effort to address Hoosier concerns generated from the Indiana Supreme Court case known as Barnes v. State, in which a man questioned about a domestic violence call scuffled with a police officer who tried to enter his house without a warrant and against his will.

"This legislation would permit Hoosiers to resist unlawful home entries by law enforcement under certain conditions," Steele said. "It's our goal to balance respect for personal property with police safety by clarifying Indiana's self-defense laws."

SB 1 does not allow homeowners to resist if a police officer enters in cases of:

• Reasonable belief that someone inside the house is at risk of physical harm;
• Invitation from at least one resident, unless one or more other adult residents object;
• Hot pursuit;
• Pursuit of a criminal committing or escaping after the commission of a crime; and
• Possession of a warrant

Steele said SB 154 would create a Class C misdemeanor penalty for operating a motorboat while using a controlled substance, punishable by a sentence of up to 60 days in prison and a maximum fine of $500. He added that the bill sets a Class A misdemeanor penalty if this intoxication leads to impaired operation of the motorboat.

"Currently, Indiana does not have a law that prohibits operating a motorboat while under the influence of controlled substances," Steele said. "Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs is prohibited, but operating a boat isn't. I want to close this inconsistency. If you are driving impaired, you are driving impaired. It doesn't matter what you're under the influence of - it's just dangerous."

SB 154 targets intoxication by Schedule I and II drugs, like marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin. Operating a motorboat with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater is already a Class C misdemeanor offense.

Steele said impetus for his bill came from a 2010 fatal boat crash on Lake Monroe that involved a man operating a ski boat while under the influence of marijuana.

"This incident was tragic," Steele said. "I want to deter Hoosiers from the hazardous practice of driving while impaired and help reduce similar events in the future."

Copies of both SB 1 and 154 can be found on the Indiana General Assembly's website at http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2012&session=1&request=all.

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