Defending Your Habitual Traffic Violator Case or other Traffic Related Offense

Labeled a Habitual Traffic Violator? Now What?

When you hear the term Habitual Traffic Violator, you almost cringe. It sounds terrible and it invokes images of a horribly reckless driver with a driving record as long as the Dead Sea Scrolls. What most people don’t realize is that it doesn’t take much to earn the moniker “habitual” traffic offender.  In fact, many people become labeled as “habitual” and didn’t even know they qualified. This blog will help you understand what the label means, how it can (and will) affect your life, and what you should do about it if you find yourself labeled by state as “habitual.”
Because the state of Indiana qualifies driving as a “privilege” and not a “right,” the legislature created the “Habitual Traffic Violator” driving status as a means to control drivers they feel have a higher propensity for traffic related infractions. Under the guise of protecting the community at large, whole statutes were written for the sole purpose of keeping what the state determines to be “dangerous drivers” off our streets. In so doing, the legislature created three (3) categories of Habitual Traffic Violators. Each of those categories or classes correlates to a length of suspension the driver will receive, depending on how they qualified for each individual suspension term. Below are the suspension lengths and what a driver must do to qualify.
Habitual Traffic Violator: 5-Year License Suspension: I.C. 9-30-10-4(c) and 9-30-10-5(b)(4)

  • 10 Judgments in 10 Years: This is the most common of suspensions. If a driver accumulates 10 moving violations in 10 years, their license is automatically suspended for five (5) years.
    • Additional Qualifying Information:
      • Separate Stops: All violations must be from separate stops (so two infractions in one stop only count as one moving violation)
      • Moving Only: Equipment and Parking violations do not count
      • 1 Major Stop: one of the ten (10) violations must be for a major reason listed in I.C. 9-30-10-4(a) or 4(b). Those include:
        • 4(a): Reckless Homicide, Voluntary/Involuntary Manslaughter with a Vehicle, Failure to Stop after an Accident causing death or serious injury, DUI causing death
        • 4(b): DUI, Criminal Recklessness with vehicle, Reckless Driving, Drag Racing, Driving While Suspended, Operating Vehicle Having Never Received a License, and Leaving the Scene of an Accident, & Any felony involving the use or a motor vehicle (i.e. possession of drugs while in a vehicle, resisting law enforcement in a vehicle, etc.)

Habitual Traffic Violator: 10-Year License Suspension: I.C. 9-30-10-4(a) and 9-30-10-5(b)(1)

  • 2 Judgments in 10 Years (1 as a Major): If a driver accumulates two (2) violations in a ten (10) year period (one of which is a 4(a) Major Judgment), their license is automatically suspended for ten (10) years.
    • Additional Qualifying Information:
      • Separate Stops: All violations must be from separate stops (so two infractions in one stop only count as one moving violation)
      • 1 Major Judgment: one of the two (2) judgments must be one of the following 4(a) Judgments:
        • Reckless Homicide with a Vehicle
        • Voluntary/Involuntary Manslaughter with a Vehicle
        • Failure to Stop after an Accident causing death or serious injury
  • 3 Major Judgments in 10 Years: This is the second most common suspension. If a driver accumulates three (3) major violations in a ten (10) year period, their license is automatically suspended for ten (10) years.
    • Additional Qualifying Information:
      • Separate Stops: All violations must be from separate stops (so two infractions in one stop only count as one moving violation)
      • 3 Major Stops: if you accumulate three (3) of any of the following judgments in a 10 years period, your license will be suspended for ten (10) years:
        • 4(a): Reckless Homicide, Voluntary/Involuntary Manslaughter with a Vehicle, Failure to Stop after an Accident causing death or serious injury, DUI causing death
        • 4(b): DUI, Criminal Recklessness with vehicle, Reckless Driving, Drag Racing, Driving While Suspended, Operating Vehicle Having Never Received a License, and Leaving the Scene of an Accident, & Any felony involving the use or a motor vehicle (i.e. possession of drugs while in a vehicle, resisting law enforcement in a vehicle, etc.)

Habitual Traffic Violator: lifetime suspension: I.C. 9-30-10-16, 9-30-10-4(a)(4)-(7) and 9-30-10-5(b)(2)

  • Caught Driving While Suspended as a Habitual Traffic Violator: This is also a very common occurrence. If you are currently suspended by the BMV as a habitual traffic violator and you get caught driving on that suspension, you will: (1) receive a lifetime suspension, and/or (2) most likely be charged with Operating a Vehicle as a Habitual Traffic Violator as a Level 6 felony.
    • Additional Qualifying Information:
      • Separate Stops: All violations must be from separate stops
      • 2 DUI’s Resulting in Death Judgments in 10 Years: if you accumulate two (2) DUI Resulting in Death judgments in a ten (10) year period, you will lose your license for life.

As anyone can see, it doesn’t take much in a short amount of time for your license to get suspended for anywhere from 5 to 10 years to a lifetime. It’s essential that you hire a qualified attorney to make sure the allegations alleged by the state and the BMV are accurate. For example, are the qualifying judgments legitimate, separate, and according to the letter of the law? Did you receive the proper notice from the BMV, was the notice timely, did it state the qualifying judgments, etc.? An experienced attorney can also help you through the process for filing for a probationary license, should you qualify. If you fail to hire an attorney who knows how to cross every “T” and dot every “I,” you may lose a freedom you rely on and enjoy each and every day, and based only a technicality.
Call the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower. As former prosecutors, we both worked in the Habitual Traffic Violator court in Marion County. As such, we have the experience and knowledge to help you through this difficult time. Give us a call today to set up a free consultation. Call us at 317.870.0019 or email us at info@banksbrower.com.