Driving on a Suspended License in Indiana
Driving on a suspended license in Indiana is a serious offense that can lead to serious consequences. Depending on the circumstances of the offense or the existence of prior convictions, you could be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony for knowingly or intentionally driving on a suspended license. If convicted, this could lead to penalties as severe as six years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
For any Hoosier who has accumulated a substantial amount of points on their license in Indiana, it’s vital to understand the laws define regarding driving on a suspended license in Indiana, as well as the implications of breaking these laws, prior to getting behind the wheel of a car. However, if you have already been charged with this offense, or would like to pursue the possibility of obtaining specialized driving privileges to avoid breaking the law, it would be best to speak with an Indiana driver’s license suspension attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our experienced and trusted team is ready to review the circumstances of your suspension and/or help you build a sound defense against charges of driving on a suspended license.
Laws on Driving on a Suspended License in Indiana
Indiana Code 9-24-19 contains several laws regarding driving on a suspended license in Indiana. These laws touch on several levels of the offense, with the lowest level being a Class A infraction and the highest being a Level 5 felony.
First, as stated in Indiana Code 9-24-19-1, if you operate a motor vehicle on a highway while your driving privileges, driver’s license, or permit are suspended or revoked, you’ll be committing a Class A infraction. As a result, you could face fines of up to $10,000 and a further license suspension of between 90 days and 2 years. However, if you are able to get your driver’s license reinstated, ideally with the help of an Indiana driver’s license reinstatement attorney, the court may elect to reduce the Driving While Suspended charge to a No License in Suspension charge. Per Indiana Code 9-24-13-3, this is a Class C infraction and would reduce your potential fines to a maximum of $500 plus court costs. In general, most court costs for these types of infractions are around $132, as stipulated under Indiana Code 33-37-4-2.
Secondly, if you operate a motor vehicle on a highway with the knowledge that your driving privileges, driver’s license, or permit are suspended or revoked, within ten years of being convicted of a previous, unrelated Driving While Suspended offense, you’ll commit a Class A Misdemeanor under Indiana Code 9-24-19-2. In contrast to civil infractions, this is considered a criminal offense in Indiana and could result in penalties as severe as a year in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
In addition, Indiana Code 9-24-19-3 provides that you can also be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for driving on a suspended license in Indiana if your suspension or revocation was the result of a criminal offense, such as drinking and driving in Indiana. Furthermore, this charge can be enhanced to a Level 6 felony if the operation of the motor vehicle resulted in bodily injury, or a Level 5 felony if the operation of the vehicle resulted in the death or catastrophic injury of another person. Moreover, a person can be charged with a separate offense for each person whose injury or death was caused by the violation.
It’s important to understand that felony offenses in Indiana are taken very seriously and carry severe penalties. Per the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, a Level 6 felony could result in a prison sentence of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $10,000, while a Level 5 felony could result in a prison sentence of 6 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Given this, if you face felony charges of Driving While Suspended, you’ll want to contact an experienced criminal defense team who can work towards protecting your livelihood and reducing your charges or potential criminal penalties.
The Burden of Proof and Presumption of Knowledge
Under Indiana Code 9-24-19-7, when a person is prosecuted for driving on a suspended license in Indiana, they will carry the burden of proof. This means they must prove by a preponderance of evidence that they have been issued a valid driver’s license or permit or that they were operating a motor-driven cycle (unless the operation of the cycle was in violation of Indiana Code 9-21-11-12) at the time the alleged offense occurred.
If you’ve been charged with Driving While Suspended, you may be tempted to allege that “you didn’t know your license was suspended.” In situations like these, it’s important to understand that Indiana Code 9-24-19-8 states service by the Indiana BMV of a notice or order suspending or revoking your driving privileges via first-class mail to your last known address recorded by the Bureau established a rebuttable presumption that you’re aware of the fact that your license has been revoked or suspended. In other words, if the order or notice of suspension was sent to your last known address, it’s assumed by the court that you were aware of the suspension unless that notion is rebutted by clear and convincing evidence supporting another conclusion.
Specialized Driving Privileges
When someone is caught driving with a suspended license in Indiana, it’s often because they’ve succumbed to the burden of not being able to get behind the wheel of a car. Let’s face it, not being able to drive can make an otherwise normal life much more complicated; impeding one’s ability to easily get to work, pick the kids up from school, or simply, pick up some groceries on the weekends. However, those who have had their license suspended or revoked don’t have to resort to giving up all of their driving privileges. In fact, eligible individuals can apply for specialized driving privileges in Indiana, which, if granted, could help resume a normal life.
Generally, specialized driving privileges, otherwise known as a hardship license in Indiana, are a set of circumstances that allow a driver with a suspended license to drive to and from specific locations. These privileges are unique to each individual’s personal situation and can only be granted by an Indiana court. Most often, specialized driving privileges are granted to allow a person to get to and from work. However, they may also be granted for the purposes of attending to childcare or the care of an elderly parent; attending counseling, treatment, medical or dental appointments; or pursuing an education, such as attending college or technical school. Every situation is unique, so courts are willing to consider an array of valid reasons that an individual may have in the petition for specialized driving privileges in Indiana.
As stated in Indiana Code 9-30-16-1, specialized driving privileges may be applied to a license suspension of a person who held a driver’s license at the time of a criminal conviction in which the operation of a motor vehicle was an element of the offense; a conviction for operating a vehicle or boat while intoxicated; or committed the infraction of exceeding the worksite speed limit for the second time in a single year.
Importantly, some individuals are NOT eligible for specialized driving privileges. This includes those who have never been an Indiana resident; those who have committed the offense of operation of a motor vehicle causing death; those whose suspension was a result of refusing a certified chemical test despite laws regarding implied consent in Indiana (unless granted under Indiana Code 9-30-6-8(d)); and finally, those whose license or driving privileges have been revoked due to being found to be incompetent or unfit to operate a motor vehicle. In addition, someone who has had their licenses suspended in Indiana as a result of reckless driving or for failure to stop when a school bus is stopped and its arm is extended, as described in Indiana Code 9-21-12-1, is not eligible to receive specialized driving privileges.
Moreover, someone who has been granted specialized driving privileges in the past and has two or more convictions for violating a condition of these privileges, and the violation involved serious bodily injury or death, the offender would no longer be eligible for specialized driving privileges.
Need to Speak with a License Suspension Attorney?
If you risk having your driver’s license suspended or have been charged with driving on a suspended license in Indiana, you should not hesitate to consult with a competent attorney. The driver’s license suspension lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have extensive knowledge and insight into how the BMV system works. They understand what steps need to be taken to help you protect your driving privileges or how to obtain specialized driving privileges so that you can get back on the road. Furthermore, our Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys have plenty of experience defending clients charged with Driving While Suspended in Indiana. They can provide you with able, aggressive representation while pursuing the best possible outcome in the case against you.