Laws Regarding a Habitual Traffic Violator in Indiana Code

November 10, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Laws Regarding a Habitual Traffic Violator in Indiana Code 

A habitual traffic violator per Indiana Code is someone who has incurred multiple, specific traffic violations within a ten-year period. Individuals who are deemed habitual traffic violators run the risk of having their license suspended indefinitely and may even face criminal charges. In situations like these, you’ll want to retain the services of an experienced habitual traffic offender attorney who can ably defend your right to drive in Indiana.  

The ability to drive is a huge privilege; being in control of your transportation gives you more freedom and a greater ability to provide for yourself and your family. Losing the privilege to drive, however, could create serious complications in your life. To protect your ability to drive and provide for yourself and/or your family, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. Our experience as Indiana criminal defense attorneys includes a thorough understanding and years of experience handling habitual traffic violation cases. When you need a habitual traffic offender attorney in Indiana, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and your driving privileges. Call 317-857-0160 to speak with an attorney or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.  

Laws Relating to a Habitual Traffic Violator in Indiana Code 

The laws used to classify a habitual traffic violator in Indiana code are contained in Indiana Code 9-30-10. These laws detail the definition of a habitual traffic violator in Indiana, as well as notice of suspension, length of the suspension, judicial reviews, petitions for rescission of lifetime suspensions, penalties for operating a motor vehicle when suspended or forfeited, and applicable defenses. This article will address each of these topics and provide you with the context you need to begin to understand the law and protect your ability to drive in Indiana.  

Definition of a Habitual Traffic Violator in Indiana Code  

The definition of a habitual traffic violator per Indiana Code (see IC 9-30-10-4) is defined as: (A) a person who has accumulated at least two (2) judgments within a ten (10) year period for any of the following violations, singularly or in combination, and not arising out of the same incident, is a habitual violator: 

  • Reckless homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle. 
  • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle. 
  • Failure of the operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in death or injury to any person to stop at the scene of the accident and give the required information and assistance. 
  • Operation of a vehicle while intoxicated resulting in death. 
  • Operation of a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least eight-hundredths (0.08) gram of alcohol per one hundred (100) milliliters of the blood or two hundred ten (210) liters of the breath; resulting in death. 

(B) A person who has accumulated at least three (3) judgments within a ten (10) year period for any of the following violations, singularly or in combination, and not arising out of the same incident, is a habitual violator: 

  • Operation of a vehicle while intoxicated. 
  • Operation of a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least eight-hundredths (0.08) gram of alcohol per one hundred (100) milliliters of the blood; or two hundred ten (210) liters of the breath. 
  • Reckless driving. 
  • Criminal recklessness as a felony involving the operation of a motor vehicle. 
  • Drag racing or engaging in a speed contest in violation of law. 
  • Violating IC 9-26-1-1(1) (repealed January 1, 2015), IC 9-26-1-1(2) (repealed January 1, 2015), IC 9-26-1-2(1) (repealed January 1, 2015), IC 9-26-1-2(2) (repealed January 1, 2015), IC 9-26-1-3 (repealed January 1, 2015), IC 9-26-1-4 (repealed January 1, 2015), or IC 9-26-1-1.1. 
  • Resisting law enforcement under IC 35-44.1-3-1(c)(1)(A), IC 35-44.1-3-1(c)(2), IC 35-44.1-3-1(c)(3), or IC 35-44.1-3-1(c)(4). 
  • Any felony under this title or any felony in which the operation of a motor vehicle is an element of the offense. 

 (C) A person who has accumulated at least ten (10) judgments within a ten (10) year period for any traffic violation, except a parking or an equipment violation, of the type required to be reported to the bureau, singularly or in combination, and not arising out of the same incident, is a habitual violator. However, at least one (1) of the judgments must be for: 

  • a violation listed in subsection (A); 
  • a violation listed in subsection (B); 
  • operating a motor vehicle while the person’s license to do so has been suspended or revoked as a result of the person’s conviction of an offense under IC 9-24-19-2, or IC 9-24-19-3; or 
  • operating a motor vehicle without ever having obtained a license to do so 
  •  

Notice of Suspension, Term, and Relief for Judicial Review 

Indiana Code 9-30-10-5 details how a person is notified of the suspension, the length of the suspension and when judicial relief is available. It explains that when the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles notices that a person’s driving record makes them a habitual traffic violator, and the court has not already found them to be one, the bureau must mail a notice to the person’s last known address informing them that their driving privileges will be suspended in 30 days as they are now considered a habitual traffic violator per Indiana code. After 30 days have passed, the bureau shall officially suspend the person’s driving privileges. However, the term of the suspension differs. (See Chart Below) 

Indiana HTV Suspension Terms

The notice sent to the habitual traffic violator must include the term of their suspension, and inform them that they are entitled to relief under Indiana Code 9-33-2. This statute allows the petitioner to assert that the Bureau made a material error when classifying them a habitual traffic violator per Indiana Code, and therefore, the order shall be subject to judicial review.  

Court Finding of a Habitual Traffic Violator per Indiana Code 

When seeking specialized driving privileges, a defendant may request that the court find them to be a habitual traffic violator. In turn, the court may order that the person be classified as such, and have the Bureau suspend their driving privileges. Furthermore, as contained in Indiana Code 9-30-10-6.5, a defendant can file a petition in an independent proceeding to be found a habitual traffic violator, but this petition must be filed in the court that entered the latest moving violation against them and must use the same cause number as in the action in which the violation judgment was entered.  

Operating a Vehicle While Deemed a Habitual Traffic Violator per Indiana Code 

As outlined in Indiana Code 9-30-10-16 and Indiana Code 9-30-10-17, a person who knowingly operates a motor vehicle while their driving privileges are validly suspended or knowingly violates restrictions related to their status as a habitual traffic violator, commits a Level 6 felony.  

Furthermore, a person who is a habitual traffic violator that commits an offense involving the person’s operation of a motor vehicle, which results in serious bodily injury, catastrophic injury, or death commits a Level 5 felony. In addition to criminal penalties, if the new offense causes catastrophic injury or death, the Bureau must suspend the person’s driving privileges for the entirety of the person’s life. Furthermore, the court shall treat each person injured or killed as a separate offense and may order terms of imprisonment to run consecutively.  

Possible Defenses 

If a person whose been deemed a habitual traffic violator has been found in violation of their suspension or restrictions, they may assert several defenses. Per Indiana Code 9-30-10-18, it is an applicable defense that the operation of the vehicle was necessary to save life or limb in an extreme emergency. However, the defendant has the burden to prove this defense by a preponderance of evidence. It is also an applicable defense to assert that the defendant was operating a class B motor-driven cycle, given that the cycle was not driven in violation of Indiana Code 9-21-11-12. Again, the defendant has the burden to prove this defense by a preponderance of evidence. 

If you have been charged with a violation of your suspension or other restrictions related to being a habitual traffic violator, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. Call us at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Rescinding a Lifetime Suspension of Driving Privileges 

With some exceptions, persons who have been designated as habitual traffic violators per Indiana code and have incurred a lifetime suspension of driving privileges may petition a court for a rescission of the suspension order and have their driving privileges reinstated. However, as outlined in Indiana Code 9-30-10-14.1, ten years must have elapsed since the date on which an order for the lifetime suspension was issued and the person has never been convicted of a violation described in Indiana Code 9-30-10-4(A). 

If the person meets those two conditions, their petition for rescission and reinstatement must be verified by the petitioner, filed in the circuit or superior court having jurisdiction in the county where the petitioner resides and include the following elements:

  • Their age 
  • Date of birth 
  • Place of residence 
  • Description of the circumstances that lead to their lifetime suspension of driving privileges 
  • Statement demonstrating that substantial changes in circumstances have occurred and they 
  • No longer pose a risk to the safety of others 
  • their lifetime suspension is unreasonable; or 
  • it is in the best interests of society that the person has their driving privileges reinstated 
  • Statement showing that the requisite amount of time (10 years) has elapsed since the date on which the order of the lifetime suspension was issued 
  • Statement showing that the petitioner has never been convicted of a violation described in Indiana Code 9-30-10-4(A) 

Once complete, the petitioner must give a copy of the petition to the prosecuting attorney of the county in which they file the petition and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  

For individuals who have been deemed habitual traffic violators per Indiana code and have had their driving privileges suspended for life may petition for rescission after three years. However, this only applies to individuals whose suspension results from a conviction of operating a motor vehicle while their privileges have been suspended, and have never been convicted of a violation contained in Indiana Code 9-30-10-4(A) or (B) beyond the judgement or conviction for operating a vehicle while the driving license or privileges were suspended. 

Facing a Suspension of Driving Privileges?

It’s easy to dismiss everyday traffic offenses as “no big deal,” but it is important to remember that when they start to add up you run the risk of being deemed a habitual traffic violator. If you’re worried about how many violations you’ve accumulated, it would be wise to contact an attorney who is familiar with the laws surrounding the classification of a habitual traffic violator in Indiana Code. There are more options for defending a driver before rather than after the suspension is in place. 

The habitual traffic violator attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP know the value of your Indiana driver’s license. Our attorneys have experience investigating and managing cases involving habitual traffic violations in Indiana, general traffic citations, as well as all kinds of Indiana criminal defense matters. Our team includes former deputy prosecutors who are familiar with both ends of the process and know how to best represent a client who is seeking relief from the hardship of a suspension. We will guide you step-by-step through the process of determining the validity of your HTV status, attempting steps to correct your driving record, undertaking your representation in any administrative or criminal proceedings, and as needed, provide representation for criminal defense matters such as DUI, OVWI, and OWI charges. 

Whether you’re contesting an HTV notice or fighting operating while a habitual traffic violator, your best chance is by taking immediate action. Call us at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

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