Published in Criminal Law by Chris Eskew on March 2, 2023.

Summer is a great time for music lovers. Especially in Indiana. Every year Klipsch Music Center (Deer Creek), The Lawn at White River, Warm Fest and many great local venues put on all star lineups of concerts for people in and around Indiana to attend in enjoy.  Unfortunately, concerts like these also mean added security and excise police at the Music Center due to widely held stereotypes about the fans of these bands. This in turn, means many arrests for underage drinking, public intoxication, OVWI, possession of marijuana, possession of controlled substances, dealing marijuana and dealing controlled substances. If you do find yourself getting into trouble with the excise troopers or local police for one of these arrests, contact a Hamilton County criminal attorney.

For those of you that have never encountered an excise police officer, they are different from regular police. They don’t dress in regular police uniforms and they frequently don’t identify themselves as police officers when you first meet them. Obviously this makes them harder to spot, which is the whole goal. In essence, they are like narcs (e.g. “undercover narcotics officers”); only they bust people for underage drinking and public intoxication, as well as drugs. However, if you run into an excise police officer, you still have the same rights and protections under the law. It’s important to remember that, and just like with regular police officers, it’s important to remember that talking to them without an attorney NEVER helps you. Before you answer any questions from an excise police officer, always contact an Indianapolis criminal attorney.

Occasionally these officers will smell an odor that they believe to be marijuana. Frequently police will ask you for permission to search you or your vehicle. Do not give consent for these searches. There may be other ways for the police to complete these searches but many times the only reason people get charged is because they cooperate with a police investigation. This is especially true of drug charges.

Many excise police officers will frequently use a Portable Breath Test (“PBT”) to investigate drinking and make an arrest. However, PBT’s are historically unreliable and have a big margin of error. Because of this, they are NOT admissible in Court. At least not entirely. Indiana case law has said that the amount of alcohol in your system determined from a PBT (i.e. , .08 or .12, etc) is not admissible because of the PBT’s large margin for error, however, PBT’s are admissible in Court for the limited purpose of establishing whether or not alcohol was in your system. This is an important distinction. Either way, taking a PBT is rarely to your benefit unless you haven’t been drinking at all. Before you take one, you should always contact an Indianapolis criminal attorney.

Although many excise officers use PBT’s, they are not required to. Especially for underage drinking and Public Intoxications. All they need to do for those charges is testify that they saw you drinking and say you were exhibiting the legal signs of intoxication (i.e. slurred speech, unsteady balance, glassy and bloodshot eyes, odor of alcohol, etc). Because of this, it’s always better not to speak with an excise police officer without consulting with an attorney. The more you speak to them, the more you could exhibit signs of intoxication, whether you’re actually drunk or not. Once an excise police officer identifies himself to you, tell him you want to speak to an attorney.

Finally, although getting an alcohol ticket or getting arrested for Public Intoxication or Possession of Alcohol by a Minor is not a good thing, there are ways to protect yourself and your future. A good criminal attorney can frequently get you pre-trial diversion for some of these offenses, and after you take an alcohol class and/or do some community service, they can get the case dismissed. If you are unfortunate enough to get charged or arrested for one of these crimes, contact us online or call our Hamilton County criminal defense attorneys today.

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Chris Eskew

Chris Eskew is the founding partner of Eskew Law. With over 15 years of experience, he focuses his practice on criminal defense, DUI defense, and family law. Chris is known for his dedication to his clients, his strong advocacy skills, and his commitment to achieving the best possible outcomes in legal matters. He is well-respected within the legal community and has earned a reputation for providing personalized and effective representation.