Habitual Traffic Violators
If a person is adjudicated a habitual traffic violator by the bureau of motor vehicles (“BMV”), his or her driving privileges can be suspended for 5 years, 10 years, or for life. If a person drives after being determined to be a habitual traffic violator, he or she can be charged with a:
Level 6 felony if driving while suspended for 5 or 10 years; or
Level 5 felony if driving while suspended for life
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 Level 6 felony (or Class D felony for an offense prior to July 1, 2014). If the conviction is entered as a Class A misdemeanor, a lifetime forfeiture of driving privileges can be avoided.
Defenses to Felony Habitual Traffic Violator Charge in Indiana
To convict someone of operating a vehicle as a habitual traffic offender, the State must prove that the person was notified by the BMV of the habitual traffic violator suspension. It is also 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.
Specialized Driving Privileges for Habitual Traffic Violators
Effective January 1, 2015, a person suspended as a habitual traffic violator (“HTV”) may qualify for a Specialized Driving Privileges. The law authorizing probationary and hardship licenses has been repealed. Under the new law, there is no waiting period to apply for specialized driving privileges, which can be granted for employment or other purposes approved by the court. If your license is suspended, call Gibson Law Office today. You may be eligible to get back on the roads.