Habitual Traffic Violators
There are three (3) categories of HTV. It is important to know that the offense dates, rather than the conviction dates, are used when determining whether the judgments occurred within the periods listed below.
A. Category One
The first category of habitual violator involves a driver accumulating ten (l0) or more judgments, not arising out of the same incident, for any moving traffic violations of a type required to be reported to the Bureau, within a ten (10) year period. At least one (1) of the judgments must be for a violation listed in “Category Two” or “Category Three” below. IC 9-30-10-4(c). The penalty imposed by the BMV is a five (5) year suspension of a person’s driving privileges. IC 9-30-10-5(b)(4).
B. Category Two
A driver may also become a habitual traffic violator if, within a ten (l0) year period, the driver has accumulated three (3) or more judgments, not arising out of the same incident, for any of the following offenses: “Operating While Intoxicated Type Offense”; “Reckless Driving”; “Criminal Recklessness as a Felony Involving Operation of a Vehicle”; “Drag Racing or Engaging in a Speed Contest”; “Resisting Law Enforcement under IC 35-44.1-3-1”; any Felony under the motor vehicle statutes of Indiana, or any Felony in which operation of a motor vehicle was an element of the offense. The penalty for this second category of habitual violators is a ten (l0) year suspension of driving privileges. IC 9-30-10-5(b)(3).
C. Category Three
This (10) year suspension occurs when a person has accumulated, within the last ten (l0) years, two (2) or more convictions not arising out of the same incident, for Reckless Homicide, Voluntary or Involuntary Manslaughter, Leaving the Scene when Involved in an Accident Resulting in Death or Injury to any Person, Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Resulting in Death, or Operating a Vehicle with .08 or more Alcohol in the Blood Resulting in Death.
If the driver has two (2) convictions for operating a vehicle while intoxicated resulting in death or operating a vehicle with .08 or more alcohol in the blood resulting in death the license suspension is for life.
D. Operating While HTV
A person who operates a motor vehicle while his driving privileges are suspended due to habitual violator status commits a Level 6 felony. A defense to the charge exists if the operation of the vehicle was necessary to save life or limb in an extreme emergency. The defendant must bear the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence to establish this defense. IC 9-30-10-18.
Under the old law, a person’s license would also be suspended for life for operating while HTV. This law has been repealed, but many people continue to be suspended for life based on the old convictions. A person who has served at least ten (10) years of the lifetime suspension may now petition the court for a rescission of the suspension.
Driving after lifetime suspension of one’s driving privileges results in the commission of a Level 5 felony. IC 9-30-10-17. The court can only suspend a person’s license for life under this section if the new offense caused death.
E. Suspension of License and Specialized Driving Privileges (SDP)
A person who is determined by a court or the BMV to be an HTV may be eligible for Specialized Driving Privileges. Also, a person with a lifetime suspension may be eligible for an SDP.