A Look at Charges Arising out of the Indy 500

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Indy 500/Memorial Day Blog
“Gentlemen, start your engines!”  Those four iconic words signal the beginning of the Indianapolis 500, the main event of an entire month built around The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.  Events like concerts, party tents, and other gatherings, including the famed “Snake Pit” – sometimes known as The Greatest Spectacle in Partying – are the main attractions for some visitors.  But unfortunately for many, the revelry ends with four less exciting words: “You are under arrest.”
Because the Indianapolis 500 falls on Memorial Day weekend and is one of the first large outdoor sporting events of the season, hundreds of thousands of people descend on Speedway for the month of May.  Generally the weather is sunny and the drinks are abundant, and this combination can lead to poor decisions from even the most level-headed among us.
In 2013, Speedway police reported making 23 arrests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway between 8 a.m. Friday, also known as Carb Day, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Race Day.  While this number may not seem large, the number of arrests for the same period of time in 2012 was 50.  But Speedway police are not the only officers making arrests.
In 2013, Indiana State Excise Police arrested 181 people!  Those arrests resulted in 214 charges, up from 125 charges in 2012.  Based upon this drastic increase in charges, it seems that Excise Police are stepping up enforcement of offenses in and around the track.  Excise Police also issue around 125 tickets each year during Indy 500 festivities.  Excise Police are often in plain clothes and blend into crowds, and you may not even know you are next to one until it is too late.
Most arrests made on Race Weekend are for alcohol-related offenses.  Common charges are public intoxication, minor possession of alcohol, minor consumption of alcohol, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, possession of other drugs, disorderly conduct, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated.  It goes without saying that one or more of these charges will cut your weekend short and can have a lasting impact on your life.  If you are one of the tens of thousands of visitors from out of town, the burden can be even greater.
But Memorial Day Weekend arrests don’t just happen at IMS.  Gatherings with family and friends, warm weather, and a 3-day weekend lead most of us to venture away from home at some point.  With many people getting behind the wheel after drinking, even if just a beer or two, police departments run saturation patrols where they aggressively look for drunk drivers.  For example, the Indiana State Police have already announced sobriety checkpoints in Daviess and DeKalb counties for Friday, May 23.  Many other departments will have extra officers on the road looking for potentially impaired drivers throughout the weekend.
In the event you come into contact with law enforcement, it is important to remember that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law – the “Miranda warning” means exactly what it says.  If an officer has approached and is questioning you about a potential violation, it is highly unlikely that something you say will dissuade him from arresting or ticketing you.  It is far more likely that something you say will be used against you down the road, whether in court or in attempting to resolve your case with the prosecutor.  Again, remember that anything you say can and WILL be used against you… so be careful!  But keep in mind that you must identify yourself if an officer suspects you of committing a crime or an infraction.
The fact that you received a citation or were arrested does not mean you are guilty of a crime.  If you were cited or arrested, it is important for you to consult with an Indianapolis criminal defense attorney who can advise you of your rights, protect your rights, and assist you in navigating the resolution of the case against you in the event charges are filed.
If you, a relative, or a loved one has been ticketed or arrested at the Indianapolis 500, give our experienced litigators at Banks & Brower a call today.  We are available 24/7/365 at 317.870.0019 or at info@banksbrower.com.