BLOG UPDATE: Effective January 1, 2015 Habitual Traffic Violators can petition for Specialized Driving Privileges
Sentencing for driving on a suspended license often results in a suspended sentence, some community service, and a 90 day driver license suspension. Jail time for driving on a suspended license is usually not ordered, unless the person has a significant criminal history. However, the consequences following a sentencing for driving on a suspended license can result in habitual traffic offender and driver license suspensions that last 5, years, 10 years, or even life. Becoming a habitual traffic offender can start with a simple speeding ticket, driving on a suspended license, or a first DUI. Under Indiana law, there are three ways you can be deemed a habitual traffic offender by the BMV:
If you are suspended as a habitual traffic offender, you may become eligible to seek a probationary license once you have served a portion of the driver license suspension. If you are suspended under paragraph 2 above for receiving a combination of 3 DUI or driving on a suspended license convictions, you can seek a probationary license after 5 years. This assumes that you have not violated the suspension by being arrested for Operating a Motor Vehicle while being a Habitual Traffic Violator.
If you are suspended under paragraph 3 above, and you do not have three DUI or driving on a suspended license convictions, you can apply for a probationary license. To be eligible, you must not have previously been placed on probation by the BMV; must allege in a petition that you drive more than an average driver for commercial or business purposes; and you do not have three prior DUI or driving on a suspended license convictions.
You may also seek a probationary license if you were suspended for being a habitual traffic offender for the reasons set forth in paragraph 2 or 3 above, if you have only been convicted of traffic infractions (such as speeding) or driving on a suspended license. To petition under these circumstances, you must have served at least 3 years of the habitual traffic offender suspension.
You should never appear in court on any criminal offense without a lawyer. I handle criminal cases throughout Indiana, including in Tippecanoe County, Carroll County, Clinton County, Miami County, Montgomery County, Warren County, and White County. In many jurisdictions, it is possible to avoid conviction on certain traffic violations, including criminal charges of driving on a suspended license, with the help of an experienced lawyer. It is never a good idea to plead guilty to any traffic offense, whether speeding or DUI, without consulting an experienced criminal lawyer. You may be able to get the charges dismissed, be acquitted at jury trial, or plead to an alternate count. If you appear in court for sentencing for a driving on a suspended license charge, the consequences may follow you for decades!
I regularly receive calls from people who say “I just paid a speeding ticket in Lafayette and a week later the BMV sent me notice that I am suspended for five years.” It is much easier for a lawyer to defend a pending case, than to get a sentencing for driving on a suspended license set aside.