Indiana's New Specialized Driving Privilege

Specialized Driving Privileges:  Indiana’s New Hardship License

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Have you been patiently (or impatiently!!!) sitting by the sidelines unable to drive for what seems like forever? Or, have you been driving when you aren’t supposed to, constantly checking your rear-view mirror for police officers? Well it appears there may be good news on the horizon. In fact, you may finally be able to get your license back — not only if you thought you would never qualify to do so, but also much sooner than you may think!
Effective January 1, 2015, Indiana’s law on driving privileges is in effect.  The Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower take a look at specialized driving privileges and how they may apply to you in this blog.
So, who qualifies?  The statute states the following individuals are ineligible to receive a specialized driving permit:

  1. A person who has never had a valid Indiana driver’s license,
  2. A person who holds a commercial driver’s license,
  3. A person who has refused to submit to a chemical test offered under IC 9-30-6,
  4. A person who has been convicted for an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle and causes the death of another person, and
  5. A person who has previously received a specialized driving privilege and the person has more than one (1) conviction for violating IC 9-30-16-5 (this last section may arise to some potential problems that we will discuss later on below)

The statute is pretty clear about who is ineligible.  This leaves a HUGE door open as to who may petition.  If you are HTV you can apply, if you are on an insurance suspension you can apply, if you are on any type of DUI suspension you can apply, if you are suspended for multiple unpaid tickets you can apply.  Quite frankly the possibilities for drivers to gain this specialized driving privilege are expansive compared to the old hardship license
If you don’t fall under one of the ineligibilities, the court imposing the suspension may “stay” that suspension and grant a specialized driving privilege for at least 180 days.  The court has complete discretion here, as “may stay the suspension” is the key language.  The court also has the discretion to determine what specialized privileges you will be given.  They can include, but are not limited to, requiring the use of ignition interlock devices and restricting a person’s driving privileges to certain days, hours, or even between certain locations.
Once granted specialized driving privileges, a driver is required to maintain proof of financial responsibility insurance, carry a copy of the order granting specialized driving privileges on their person or in their vehicle, and must produce a copy of said order upon a request from a police officer.
Seems easy right?  Let’s take a closer look at the statute…
IC 9-30-16-1(c) states:
“Except as specifically provided in this chapter, for any criminal conviction in which the operation of a motor vehicle is an element of the offense, a court may suspend the person’s driving privileges for a period of up to the maximum allowable period of incarceration under the penalty for the offense.”
IC 9-30-16-3(a) states:
“A court imposing a suspension of driving privileges under this chapter may stay the suspension and grant a specialized driving privileges…”
If you look at strictly the language of the statute above, the court may only grant specialized driving privileges if the court itself has imposed the suspension due to a criminal conviction involving the operation of a motor vehicle.  However, if you take a look even further, IC 9-30-16-4(a) states:
“A person whose driving privileges have been suspended by the bureau may petition a court for specialized driving privileges.”
That means drivers receiving a suspension as part of a court order may petition the Court issuing the Order and a person receiving a suspension directly from the BMV may petition a court in the county they live in for specialized driving privileges.
Now we mentioned above about a potential problem with IC 9-30-16-5IC 9-30-16-3(d) states that you cannot get a specialized driving privilege if you have previously had a specialized driving permit and you have more than one (1) conviction under section 5.  Here is section 5(a):
“A person who knowingly or intentionally violates a condition imposed by a court under section 2 of this chapter commits a Class C misdemeanor.”
Section 2 covers convictions resulting in serious bodily injury and death only.  Violating a condition imposed by a court under section 3, not section 2, as a disqualifier.  The court imposes conditions under section 3, which we discussed above, and it makes sense that if you violate your special conditions more than once that you would be disqualified from receiving another specialized permit.
The Indianapolis Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC can help you navigate the requirements to gain a specialized driving permit and are available 24/7/365 for your questions.  Give us a call at 317.870.0019.