Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.

Help support the publication of case reports on MoreLaw

Date: 11-23-2020

Case Style:

SHANE E PEEK v. State of Indiana

Case Number: 20A-IF-247

Judge: James S. Kirsch


Plaintiff's Attorney: Curtis T. Hill, Jr.
Attorney General of Indiana
Tyler G. Banks
Deputy Attorney General

Defendant's Attorney:

Free National Lawyer Directory


Just Call 855-853-4800 for Free Help Finding a Lawyer Help You.


Fort Wayne, IN - Criminal defense lawyer represented defendant Shane E. Peek charged with unlawfully driving his semi-truck in a prohibited lane1 after a bench trial. He appeals and raises the following restated issue for our review: whether sufficient evidence was presented to support the infraction judgment.

At approximately 7:30 a.m. on May 24, 2019, Indiana State Police Trooper
Justin Snyder (“Trooper Snyder”) was working traffic control and was driving
southbound in the middle lane on Interstate 69 (“I-69”) in Allen County near
mile marker 312. Tr. at 4-5. That portion of I-69 has three lanes of traffic
traveling in each direction. Id. at 6, 8. Approximately one-half to threequarters of a mile ahead of Trooper Snyder was a construction zone in which
the left lane of the three-lane interstate was closed. Id. at 4-5, 6. As Trooper
Snyder drove in the middle lane, he looked in his rear-view mirror and observed
a semi-truck, driven by Peek, move into the soon-to-be-closed left lane and pass
the line of traffic. Id. at 4-5. Trooper Snyder knew that commercial motor
vehicles were not allowed to drive in the far-left lane, and he testified that “the
left lane is for vehicle traffic only. There’s no commercial motor vehicles that
are supposed to be traveling in that lane.” Id. at 5. Trooper Snyder also
testified that there were signs alerting drivers to this restriction posted “through
See Ind. Code § 9-21-8-13.
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 20A-IF-247 | November 23, 2020 Page 3 of 6
out [sic]” I-69. Id. at 8. After Peek’s truck passed Trooper Snyder’s patrol
vehicle, Trooper Snyder initiated a traffic stop for the traveling in a restricted
lane infraction he had observed. Id. at 5.
[4] Trooper Snyder issued Peek a citation for violating Indiana Code section 9-21-
8-13, which prohibits a person driving a semi-truck from traveling in any lanes
other than the two far right lanes when there are three lanes or more.
Appellant’s App. at 6-7.2
A bench trial was held on December 6, 2019, at which
Peek was represented by counsel. Tr. at 2; Appellant’s App. at 5. At the bench
trial, Peek testified that he entered the left lane to avoid an accident in the
middle lane. Tr. at 14-15. Trooper Snyder testified that both before he had
observed Peek drive in the left lane and afterwards, he never saw an accident
that had occurred in the portion of I-69 between mile marker 312 and where the
traffic stop was conducted. Id. at 6, 10, 11, 12. At the conclusion of the bench
trial, the trial court found that Peek had committed the alleged infraction.
Appellant’s App. at 5. Peek now appeals.
Discussion and Decision
[5] “‘[T]raffic infractions are civil, rather than criminal, in nature and the State
must prove the commission of the infraction by only a preponderance of the
evidence.’” Anthony v. State, 103 N.E.3d 696, 700 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018) (quoting
Peek’s appendix is not paginated. All citations to the appendix correspond with the PDF file’s pagination.
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 20A-IF-247 | November 23, 2020 Page 4 of 6
Rosenbaum v. State, 930 N.E.2d 72, 74 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), trans. denied).
When reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we will consider
only probative evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court’s judgment
and all reasonable inferences therefrom. Id. We do not assess the credibility of
the witnesses or reweigh the evidence in determining whether the evidence is
sufficient. Rosenbaum, 930 N.E.2d at 74. If there is substantial evidence of
probative value supporting the trial court’s judgment, it will not be overturned.
[6] Peek argues that insufficient evidence was presented to support his infraction
judgment.3 The trial court found that he violated Indiana Code section 9-21-8-
13, which provides:
Except when entering or leaving a highway or where a special
hazard exists that requires, for safety reasons, the use of an
alternate lane, a person may not operate a truck, truck tractor,
road tractor, semitrailer, or pole trailer on an interstate highway
Peek also seems to argue that the trial court abused its discretion in not allowing him to admit an exhibit
consisting of a citation given to another truck driver with whom he was traveling on the highway. However,
this exhibit was never offered for admission into evidence, and the trial court never made any ruling
regarding it. Tr. at 9-10. Additionally, Peek appears to argues that the trial court abused its discretion when
it did not allow him to admit an exhibit consisting of a DVD that he made the morning of the trial that
depicted the area of I-69 and that he had not previously provided to the State. Id. at 17-18. However, Peek
does not support this argument with any citation to legal authority in his appellant’s brief and has therefore
waived this argument. See Pierce v. State, 29 N.E.3d 1258, 1267 (Ind. 2015) (“A litigant who fails to support
his arguments with appropriate citations to legal authority and record evidence waives those arguments for
our review.”). We note that Peek did cite to some legal authority in his reply brief, but “[t]he law is well
settled that grounds for error may only be framed in an appellant’s initial brief and if addressed for the first
time in the reply brief, they are waived.” Monroe Guar. Ins. Co. v. Magwerks Corp., 829 N.E.2d 968, 977 (Ind.
2005). It is well settled that pro se litigants are held to the same legal standards as licensed attorneys.
Lowrance v. State, 64 N.E.3d 935, 938 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016), trans. denied. This means that pro se litigants are
bound to follow the established rules of procedure and must be prepared to accept the consequences of their
failure to do so. Id.
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 20A-IF-247 | November 23, 2020 Page 5 of 6
consisting of at least three (3) lanes in one (1) direction in any
lane other than the two (2) far right lanes.
Ind. Code § 9-21-8-13. Peek does not dispute that he was driving a vehicle
covered by this statute in a prohibited lane. Instead, he asserts that he was
doing so because he was required to move to the left lane for safety reasons and
also contends that his infraction should be excused because he alleges that there
were no signs visible to alert him of the lane restriction. Appellant’s Br. at 10-17.
[7] The evidence most favorable to the judgment showed that Peek drove his semitruck in the left lane, which he was prohibited from doing. Although he
maintains that he was required to do so to avoid an accident that had occurred
in the middle lane in front of him, this assertion was rebutted by Trooper
Snyder’s testimony. Trooper Snyder, who was traveling in front of Peek in the
middle lane, testified multiple times that he did not observe an accident on that
portion of I-69 that would have necessitated Peek changing lanes. Tr. at 6, 10,
11, 12. Presumably, had there been an accident in the middle lane that required
a lane change, Trooper Snyder would have seen the hazard that Peek claims to
have existed. Additionally, as the trial court stated in ruling that there was not
a necessity defense to the infraction, Peek testified that he was able to stop his
vehicle before this crash to the extent that there was a crash because he saw
hazard lights in front of him. Id. at 15. Although Peek stated that he did not
stop in the middle lane because he was concerned about the vehicles behind
him, there was no testimony or any evidence regarding anyone tailgating him
or how close the vehicles behind him were. Id. Therefore, no testimony, other
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 20A-IF-247 | November 23, 2020 Page 6 of 6
than Peek’s own, showed that there was an accident or a requirement to move
into the left lane. Peek’s request to credit his testimony over Trooper Snyder’s
testimony is merely a request to reweigh the evidence in his favor, which is
prohibited under the standard of review. Rosenbaum, 930 N.E.2d at 74.
Sufficient evidence was presented to prove that no safety reason existed that
required Peek to unlawfully change lanes.
[8] As for Peek’s argument regarding the alleged lack of signs alerting him to the
lane restrictions, he has provided no authority that a person cannot be held
liable for an infraction offense merely because there was no sign informing
drivers not to commit the offense. Further, his contention that there were no
signs alerting him about the lane restriction is refuted by the record. Trooper
Snyder testified that there were signs telling semi-truck drivers not to travel in
the left lane “through out [sic]” the portion of I-69 where the traffic stop
occurred. Tr. at 8.

Outcome: Peek seems to contend that in order to be found to violate
the statute signs were required to be placed between where he entered I-69 and
when he made the lane change. However, this claim ignores that Trooper
Snyder testified that there were signs along I-69 alerting drivers of the lane
restriction, and Peek has cited no authority to support his assertion. We
conclude that sufficient evidence was presented to support the infraction


Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:


Find a Lawyer


Find a Case