Habitual Traffic Violators
If a person is adjudicated a habitual traffic violator by the bureau of motor vehicles (“BMV”), their driving privileges can be suspended for 5 years, 10 years, or for life. A person who operates a motor vehicle after being notified of a habitual traffic violator determination by the BMV commits a Class D felony. A conviction for operating a motor vehicle, while being adjudicated a habitual traffic violator, also carries a penalty of a lifetime driver’s license suspension. However, in certain circumstances, a judgment for driving while being a habitual traffic violator can be entered as a Class A misdemeanor, rather than a Class D felony. If the conviction is entered as a Class A misdemeanor, a lifetime forfeiture of driving privileges can be avoided. If a person is charged with driving while being adjudicated a habitual traffic violator, as a Class D felony, it is extremely important to identify whether the person is eligible for reduction of any judgment to a Class A misdemeanor.
A person who operates a motor vehicle, after the person’s driving privileges are forfeited for life, commits a Class C felony. A Class C felony carries a penalty of 2 to 8 years in prison. It is a defense that the person operated the vehicle in an extreme emergency that was necessary to save life or limb. The defendant has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence to establish this defense.
Criteria For Habitual Traffic Violator Designation
A person will be designed a habitual traffic violator if they accumulate three judgments in ten years for major traffic violations. Major traffic violations include operating while intoxicated, reckless driving, criminal recklessness with a motor vehicle, and leaving the scene of an accident. A person who accumulates three major violations in ten years will be subject to a ten year license suspension as a habitual traffic violator.
A person can also become a habitual traffic violator by receiving ten traffic judgments in ten years, provided at least one of the judgments is for what is deemed a “major” violation. Ten traffic judgments in ten years will result in a five year license suspension for being a habitual traffic violator.
Probationary License For A Habitual Traffic Violator
A person suspended as a habitual traffic violator (“HTV”) may qualify for a probationary license to drive for employment purposes, prior to serving the full HTV suspension. A person suspended as a HTV, who only has convictions for infractions or operating while suspended, becomes eligible once they serve three years of the HTV suspension. To be eligible, they must not have operated a vehicle during the HTV suspension.
A person serving a ten year HTV suspension can petition for a probationary license once they have served five years of the suspension. If the person has a DUI conviction, they must have successfully completed a certified rehabilitation program. They also must not have operated a vehicle during the HTV suspension.
A person serving a five year HTV suspension is eligible for a probationary license if they have less than three convictions for certain major traffic violations and a court finds that they operated a vehicle for commercial or business purposes resulting in excessive mileage. The court must also find that the excessive business driving contributed to the person’s poor driving record.
A person whose driving privileges are suspended for life may petition for reinstatement once they have served ten years of the lifetime suspension. To be eligible, the person must not have been convicted of certain serious traffic offenses, including operating while intoxicated resulting in death or operating a motor vehicle after the person's driving privileges are forfeited for life. The person must also not have been convicted for operating a vehicle while being a habitual traffic violator more than once.
If you are charged with any traffic offense, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney. In defending any traffic violation, it is important to be aware of the effect it may have on your habitual traffic violator status. If you have accumulated nine infraction tickets, even a single major traffic violation could result in a habitual traffic violator determination and a lengthy license suspension.