Indiana Senate Bill 98 – Specialized Driving Privileges

A Look at Indiana Senate Bill 98 – Specialized Driving Privileges

Under state law, Indiana courts can order the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to suspend a person’s driving privileges (driver’s license) for certain reasons.  Also, state law requires the BMV to suspend a person’s driver’s license for certain violations.  However, Indiana law says that some people under certain circumstances can be granted “specialized driving privileges” (SDP). An SDP is similar to what used to be called a hardship license. Now a SDP does not grant someone the ability to bypass all of their suspensions and drive as if they did not have any suspensions at all. The SDP “stays” the suspension and allows individuals to drive over the suspension under certain conditions.

We have gone into more detail about how SDPs work practically in other blogs and would recommend you consult those as well if you think you wish to pursue a SDP. (See https://banksbrower.com/2014/12/14/indianas-new-specialized-driving-privilege/). Because driving is crucial in society today, a license suspension is one of the greatest obstacles when facing a criminal conviction or charge.  As such, SDPs are one of the most asked about options from a suspended license situation.

Prior to the passage of Indiana Senate Bill 98 effect January 1, 2018, defendants lacked an avenue to address their driving privileges in coordination with the status of their underlying criminal offense.  Charges that can lead to driver’s license suspension include Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated, Driving while Suspended, or other traffic violations.  In the beginning of 2018, the Indiana legislature passed SB 98 which addresses the implementation of SDPs.  Indiana Senate Bill 98 provides:

“[T]hat an individual’s specialized driving privileges expire at the time the suspension of the individual’s driving privileges is terminated if: (1) the underlying conviction, charge, adjudication, or determination that forms the basis of the suspension is reversed, vacated, or dismissed; or (2) the individual is acquitted of, found not liable for, or otherwise found not to have committed the underlying act or offense that forms the basis of the suspension. “

Additionally, SB 98 requires:

“[T]he court to inform the bureau of motor vehicles of a termination of a suspension and expiration of specialized driving privileges.”

Often times, an SDP hearing will be continued upon the conclusion of a pending criminal charge, OVWI for example.  Because OVWI cases are often delayed while the State is waiting on lab results on blood samples to move forward with the charges, a person’s license is often in limbo.  If an SDP hearing is continued due to (1) congestion of court calendar, (2) prosecuting attorney’s motion for a continuance, or (3) a person’s motion for continuance with no objection by the prosecutor, the stay of the suspension of driving privileges continues until addressed at the next hearing.

If a person moves for a continuance of an SDP hearing and the court grants it over the objection of the prosecutor, the court shall lift the stay of the suspension of the person’s driving privileges and shall submit the probable cause affidavit related to the person’s offense to the BMV for automatic suspension.  Thus, the new law allows for the state to proceed with just the probable cause affidavit while waiting on lab results but it is something that the state must “affirmatively” do.

So that is a lot of legalese but what does it mean exactly? Say you are charged with an operating a vehicle while intoxicated case and your license is suspended for an extended period of time but you obviously still have a job to go to and a family to take care of, what can you do? You can petition a court while the case is pending for an SDP but often times the hearing gets continued for reasons outside of your control and you can’t get to a SDP hearing quick enough to make it worth your while. This latest change allows the court to stay or temporarily lift the suspension until the hearing is held to in an effort to avoid delay by the parties and if the delay is necessary, prevents further punishment to you by lifting the suspension until a hearing is held. This will likely result in a quicker determination and hopefully quicker relief for those individuals with a suspended license.

Additionally, the statute previously required individuals to be on the SDP conditional requirements for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of two and a half years. Although that is still the case for most situations, if you get a SDP for a case that is still pending and the case ends up dismissed or vacated, you will be released from the conditional requirements of the SDP.

As many citizens have experienced a driver’s license suspension, experienced attorneys that know the nuances of the new Senate Bill 98 can help restore the rights that affect people’s very ability to move about.  If you are currently suspended it is important you consult with an attorney right away to advise you regarding your eligibility, the time of when to file a petition for specialized driving privileges, and the proper requests to make in the petition.  Give the experienced Indianapolis Specialized Driving Privileges Lawyers at Banks & Brower a call today.  We are available 24/7/365. 317.870.0019 or info@banksbrower.com.