A Quick and Concise Look at the Laws Governing Indiana’s Habitual Traffic Violator Statute
Indiana’s habitual traffic violator laws can be very confusing and difficult to understand for someone who isn’t well-versed in traffic law. The Indiana legislature has recently passed new laws updating the ways to become a habitual traffic violator and the types of possible penalties and license suspensions.
The habitual traffic violator laws can be broken up into three sections according to the length of the license suspension.
10 YEAR HTV – 2 MAJORS INVOLVING DEATH WITHIN 10 YEARS
The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (“BMV”) shall suspend the person’s driving privileges for TEN YEARS if the person has accumulated at least two judgments within a ten year period for any of the following violations, singularly or in combination, and not arising out of the same incident:
- Reckless homicide resulting from operating a motor vehicle;
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
- A driver involved in an accident resulting in death or injury who fails to stop at the scene of the accident to provide information and assistance;
- Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated resulting in death;
- Operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or more resulting in death.
Additionally, a person’s driving privileges may be suspended for LIFE if the person is designated as a habitual violator above and has at least two violations of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated resulting in death or operating a motor vehicle with blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more resulting in death.
10 YEAR HTV – 3 MAJOR OFFENSES IN 10 YEARS
Moreover, the BMV shall suspend a person’s driving privileges for TEN YEARS if a person accumulates three of the following judgments within a ten year period:
- Driving while intoxicated or with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more;
- Prior to June 30, 2001, drivers who are convicted of operating a motor vehicle with blood alcohol content of .10 percent;
- Prior to July 1, 1997, drivers who are convicted of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated resulting in death or operating a motor vehicle with blood alcohol content of .10 percent;
- Reckless driving;
- Criminal recklessness as a felony involving the operation of a motor vehicle;
- Drag racing or engaging in a speed contest in violation of the law;
- Leaving the scene of an accident or failing to notify authorities of an accident when required;
- Resisting law enforcement under IC 35-44.1-3-1;
- Any felony under an Indiana motor vehicle statute or any felony in which the operation of a vehicle is an element of the offense;
- Operating a Class B motor-driven cycle in violation of IC 9-24-1-1(b).
- NOTE: the legislature removed driving while suspended and operating a vehicle having never received a license as major, qualifying events
5 YEAR HTV – 1 MAJOR OFFENSE & 9 MOVING VIOLATIONS WITHIN 10 YEARS
Finally, the BMV shall suspend a person’s driving privileges for FIVE YEARS if they accumulate ten or more traffic violations in a ten year period. The traffic violation can be for any traffic violation, except a parking or an equipment violation, of the type required to be reported to the bureau that did not arise out of the same incident, for example, a speeding ticket. However, at least one violation must be for one of the violations listed in the above bullet points, operating a motor vehicle while the person’s license has been suspended or revoked as a result of the person’s prior conviction of driving while suspended, or operating a vehicle without ever having obtained a license to do so.
The habitual traffic violator distinction can be handed down by either a court or the BMV. If you only receive a traffic ticket or commit an infraction that does not require a court appearance, but would make you a habitual violator according to the BMV, the BMV will mail a notice to the person’s last known address to inform the person that their driving privileges will be suspended in thirty days. The State needs only to prove that the BMV mailed notices to the driver’s last known address to obtain a conviction. Even if the person never received this documentation because they have moved addresses, courts have held it is the defendant’s fault in not providing a newer address. Stewart v. State, 721 N.E.2d 876, 879 (Ind. 1999).
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. An experienced attorney can also help you through the process for filing for a special driving privilege, 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.
If you or a loved one is facing a suspension or a criminal charge tied to a habitual traffic violator case, given the experienced former prosecutors at Banks & Brower, LLC a call today. We are available 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 870-0019.