Without question, one of the most important things to anyone that works or lives a normal life is the ability to drive, to drive often, and to drive all over. And, this is made even more evident when someone has their license taken away — for any period of time. The inconvenience of nothing having a license is unparalleled. Many have characterized it as a jail-like sentence — relegating people to their homes, unable to travel anywhere for any reason but for a kind friend or a strategically planned bus route.
As many defense attorneys have decried for decades now, suspending someone’s license for driving while suspended is about as circular of an argument as it gets. Obviously, most people need to be able to drive to work — so if you suspend them, many can’t work unless they drive — thus, many drive while suspended. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the penalties didn’t accumulate to the point of causing drastic outcomes. What can start as an unpaid speeding ticket can lead to a suspension, which leads to a driving while suspended. If you add a few more convictions for minor and major issues, suddenly you are facing suspensions with drastic time-frames (sometimes decades) — and, even worse, jail time!
Therefore, it goes without saying, that our office receives hundreds (if not thousands) of phone calls a year from potential clients seeking help getting their driving privileges back. Sometimes that process is simple and straightforward, other times it can be incredibly complicated. It all depends on why they are suspended. Therefore, it’s important that people understand the most common reasons for losing your license for a longer period of time.
There are criminal offenses and BMV-status based offenses that can lead to license suspensions ranging from 90 to 180 to 365 days — to 5 years to 10 years — and finally for life. This blog will focus on the administrative determination by the BMV labeling someone a Habitual Traffic Violator for 10 Years, one of the most common suspensions that exist.
To read about some of those other suspensions, click here.
The Indiana legislature has codified, through IC 9-30-10-4, that “any person who has accumulated at least three (3) judgements with a ten (10) year period for any of the following violations, singularly or in combination, and not arising out of the same incident, is a habitual violator [as a 10-year suspension]:”
- Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OVWI/DUI) [both current law, as existed in 1997, and after 2001]
- Reckless Driving
- Criminal Recklessness as a felony involving a vehicle
- Drag racing and/or Speed contest
- Resisting Law Enforcement with a vehicle
- Any felony under this title which the operation of a vehicle is an essential element of the crime
- NOTE: Driving While Suspended was removed as a qualifier in 2014
Many people then start asking questions about what qualifies as the 10-year window? Is it based on the offense dates of the three (3) qualifying offenses? What about the conviction dates? Or, a combination of both? The statute specifically addresses this issue in subsection (e). It states:
“For purposes of this section, the offense date is used when determining the number of judgments accumulated within a ten (10) year period.” If you think about this, it makes logical sense. Otherwise, lawyers could delay resolving a case to get it outside of the last 10 year period. If any other date could be used in calculating the ten (10) year period, lawyers could be crafty. For example, consider the following circumstance:
Offense Type Offense Date Disposition Date
- DUI/OVWI 02/01/2000 06/01/2000
- Reckless Driving 03/01/2005 08/03/2005
- DUI/OVWI 01/15/2010 07/10/2010
If the offense date is used, all three major qualifying offenses occurred within ten (10) years. From 02/01/2000 to 01/15/2010 — just barely. If you went by offense date and disposition date, the person would be outside the ten (10) year window. As that would be 02/01/2000 to 07/10/2010. If that were the case, the attorney on offense number three could delay the conviction to beyond the 10-year window from the first offense date, even though the three qualifiers were within that ten (10) year window. The same issue would exist if you used the disposition date. In the example above, the disposition dates are not all within ten (10) years — thus a crafty lawyer could avoid the ten (10) year rule if they paid close enough attention.
order to avoid cunning defense attorneys litigating things in this way, the legislature made it offense date to offense date — it doesn’t matter when you actually dispose of them. Once they are disposed of, the BMW will look at offense dates of all three qualifying events to see if they are within a ten (10) year window. If they are, you are labeled a 10-year HTV – effectively removing your ability to drive without a specialized driving privilege.
We hope this blog was educational in helping explain how the ten (10) year HTV suspension attaches and is calculated. Regardless, we realize that losing your license is a terrible thing — a life-altering thing. If you or a loved one facing suspension like this, contact the experienced Indianapolis Traffic Attorneys at Banks & Brower today. We are available 24/7/365 at email@example.com or (317) 870-0019. We stand ready to assist you at a moment’s notice.