Updates to Specialized Driving Privileges 2019

What are Specialized Driving Privileges or “SDP”?

Starting the first of the year in 2019, individuals facing Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (“OWI”) charges have new hope in their efforts to avoid an immediate license suspension.  Indiana Code (“IC”) 9-30-16-1 will be amended to allow an individual to actually stay (or delay) the suspension.   In order to do this you still need to be eligible for Specialized Driving Privileges (“SDP”).  Generally, you are ineligible for SDP if 1) You have never been an Indiana resident, 2) You refused the chemical test offered by the Police Officer, or 3) You have been determined to be incompetent or otherwise unfit to operate a car by the BMV.

What Does Indiana Law Say?

So under Indiana Law, at the initial hearing if the Judicial Officer (Judge) fines that there is prima facie evidence of intoxication, that being your blood or breath alcohol concentration is over .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of your breath or 100 milliliters of your blood, then they are required to immediately suspend your driving privileges and notify the BMV of this suspension (basically there is probable cause to believe you violated the Indiana OWI laws codified in IC 9-30-5).  Before the update set to take effect on January 1, 2019, you would have to accept the suspension, gather the requisite insurance coverage (SR-22 and typically $100/$300 liability coverage), draft and file a petition for SDP, and then wait for a hearing to be held (if at all).  This could be a process that takes upwards of 1-2 months, where you are unable to drive the entire time.

When Does it Take Effect?

Starting January 1, 2019, IC 9-30-16-1(g) now provides a path where you can avoid that process altogether.  If, at the initial hearing, you indicate to the court that you qualify and intend to file for SDP, the Judge shall (meaning there’s no discretion) stay your suspension for a period of thirty (30) days.  However, you need to move fast with obtaining all the required insurance coverage(s), providing that documentation to your attorney, and otherwise qualifying for SDP, as you verified petition has to be filed within ten (10) days of the initial hearing.  If not the suspension will go into effect.  So long as that is done, the overall suspension is stayed until a hearing on your verified petition.  This means you are able to drive until a Judge grants or denies your SDP request following a hearing (i.e. it cannot be denied until a hearing is held).

There are rules and qualifications regarding if the hearing date is continued by the Court, the Prosecutor, or you, and how the stay of your suspension is impacted.  If continued by the Court or the Prosecutor, the stay of your suspension is not impacted.  If, however, the continuance is requested by you, it must be noted whether the Prosecutor does or does not object.  If they do object, your hearing can be rescheduled but the suspension automatically goes into effect.  If they do not, the suspension remains stayed until the hearing.

While this new avenue to stay a suspension is great news for anyone facing OWI charges and the logistical nightmare of life without being able to drive, depending upon the type of license you have (i.e. regular driver’s license, a commercial license (CDL), a public passenger chauffeur or a chauffeur’s license) SDP can, generally, be available to you  .  However there are numerous limitations to HOW (i.e. not for CDL purposes), WHERE (home, work, childcare, etc.), and WHEN you are able to drive.  A Judge can also require the installation of an ignition interlock system as a condition of SDP and that has an impact on whether or not you receive credit for any future license suspension that may occur as a result of the pending charge(s).  Lastly, there are new rules within IC 9-30-16-3 as to when your SDP will expire, seeming to remove the ridged one hundred eighty (180) day minimum length requirement.

You will want to make sure your attorney is up-to-date on the amendment to the Indiana Code and the new rules/regulations for acquiring SDP.  It can mean the difference between not losing your driving privileges immediately, at all, or for an extended period of time!

If you or somebody you know has recently been accused of a crime or has questions about the criminal case process, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys in Indianapolis at Banks & Brower, LLC.  We are available at all times by calling us at (317) 870-0019 or by emailing info@banksbrower.com.