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Indiana Specialized Driving Privileges Attorney

Having a suspended driver’s license is a serious hardship for individuals who need to drive to get to work or school or to take care of their children—and that’s most people these days. A suspended license can lead to job loss, difficulty meeting obligations, and even housing insecurity. Fortunately, your life does not need to come to a screeching halt when your driver’s license is suspended. A specialized driving privileges attorney can help you determine your eligibility for and apply for a limited license to allow you to drive to and from critical activities.

At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we know how frustrating it can be to apply for these limited driving privileges only to have your application rejected because of a preventable technicality. We help our suspended license clients follow the statutory procedure precisely and make sure they stand the very best chance of getting back on the road as early as possible.

If you have a suspended driver’s license and would like to explore the possibility of receiving specialized driving privileges, then contact our firm today.


In today’s society, even in a large city like Indianapolis, driving is vital to daily life. Working, getting groceries, taking children to medical appointments, going to worship, and taking care of elderly parents across town are all dependent on the ability to drive. Once your driver’s license is suspended, all of these activities are shut down.

Your obligations don’t stop when your license is suspended, but driving on a suspended license carries serious penalties. To maintain your mobility, the alternative is to apply for specialized driving privileges. Formerly called an Indiana hardship license or probationary privilege, this limited license can make a huge difference in the life of a driver with a suspended license, but to get there you must understand and follow the rigid statutory requirements.

What Can I Do with Specialized Driving Privileges?

Specialized driving privileges are specifically determined by the granting court for each driver’s unique situation. The most common example is granting a driver permission to drive to and from work but nowhere else. The court’s order will include the address of the driver’s home and the driver’s place of employment. The court may also specify the particular times of day, the days of the week, and even the route that the driver must take to and from work.

Similarly, the court may grant limited permission to drive for childcare purposes. A parent may be given limited permission to drive children to and from school, childcare, parenting time exchanges, medical appointments, and extracurricular activities. The addresses of the parent’s home and the children’s schools or other approved destinations would be included in the court’s order, and the order may specify the allowable days of the week and the times of day to coincide with the children’s schedules.

The court may also grant permission for the individual to drive to and from counseling or other treatment ordered by a court, a probation offer, or other official. Other possible uses of driving privileges include caring for an elderly parent, attending medical appointments, or attending a college or technical school. Because each situation is unique, the court will consider any valid reason that a person may have to drive.

Sometimes the court imposes additional conditions when granting limited permission to drive on a limited license. For example, when an Indiana license suspension is due to an alcohol-related offense, the court may require the driver to use an ignition interlock device, a breath-testing machine that allows you to start the car only if you pass the attached breath test. The device can also measure the driver’s breath periodically as driving continues. The expense of these devices must be borne by the driver, and only ignition interlock devices certified for use in Indiana may be used.

A court’s order allowing an offender to drive despite a suspension applies only to a regular Indiana driver’s license. While an offender with a suspended Indiana commercial driver’s license may be granted permission to drive in limited circumstances, that person may not use the privilege to operate a vehicle for which a commercial driver’s license is required.

While exercising these limited driving privileges, the driver must also maintain proof of future financial responsibility insurance, carry a copy of the order granting the privileges, or have the order in the vehicle. The driver must also carry a validly issued state identification card or driver’s license.

Eligibility for Specialized Driving Privileges

Not everyone is eligible for specialized driving privileges. A driver is NOT eligible if the driver:

  • Has never been an Indiana resident
  • Refused to submit to a chemical test
  • Committed the offense of operation of a motor vehicle causing death
  • Has previously been granted specialized driving privileges and has more than one conviction for violating a condition of such privileges, if the condition arose from an offense involving serious bodily injury or death
  • Was suspended or revoked by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles as incompetent or unfit to operate a motor vehicle
  • Was suspended for passing a school bus

A driver under an Indiana license suspension who does not fit into any of these categories may apply for this type of limited driving privileges.

Applying for Specialized Driving Privileges

To recover the right to drive despite a license suspension, the preparation and filing of the petition must follow precise statutory requirements. Common mistakes that can prevent the grant of a petition include:

  • Omitting required information from the petition
  • Filing in the wrong county
  • Failing to properly serve the petition on the Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  • Failing to properly serve the petition on the prosecutor
  • Failing to complete the petition properly and under oath

Because of these and other strict rules governing the application and the importance of recovering driving privileges as soon as possible, most suspended drivers wisely seek legal representation from a specialized driving privileges attorney.

If the Indiana license suspension originated in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the driver seeking limited permission to drive starts by filing a petition in the court local court. Under Indiana Code § 9-30-16-4(b), the petition must:

  • Include the driver’s verification (meaning the petition is signed under oath)
  • State the petitioner’s age, date of birth, and address
  • State the grounds for relief (the reason you are requesting permission to drive despite suspension) and the relief sought (where you need to drive)
  • Be filed in the county in which the petitioner resides, or, for non-Indiana residents, in the county of the most recent moving violation judgment
  • Be filed in a circuit or superior court
  • Be served on the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the prosecuting attorney

If the suspension was issued by a court, the petition’s contents and filing requirements are the same except that the petition must be filed in every court that ordered or imposed a suspension. In these cases, the prosecutor is required to appear and argue the State’s position on whether privileges should be granted, or the prosecutor may argue that privileges should be limited.

Even assuming that your petition contains all the right information, is filed in the right place, and is properly served, the grant of specialized driving privileges is completely up to a judge to determine. In the case of suspensions ordered by the court, the prosecutor may oppose the petition, and the judge issuing the suspension may be skeptical about lifting it for even limited purposes. Assertive and thorough legal representation by an experienced traffic or criminal defense attorney can help ensure that filing for these privileges goes as smoothly as possible.

Never Miss a Day of Work: 2019 Procedure to Forestall License Suspension

It is possible to keep your Indiana driving privileges, at least temporarily, even after a court has indicated that your license is going to be suspended. As of 2019, under Indiana Code § 9-30-16-1(g), if an eligible driver notifies that court at the initial hearing on the driving offense that the driver intends to file a petition for specialized driving privileges, the court must enter an order that keeps the suspension from going into effect for 30 days. This allows the driver time to seek prepare and file a petition, but the process has detailed requirements and deadlines.

First, the driver must inform the court at an initial hearing that the driver intends to file a petition for a specialized driving privileges hearing with that court. The court is then required to stay or temporarily stop the suspension of the person’s driving privileges at the initial hearing and shall not submit the probable cause affidavit related to the person’s offense to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The court will then set the matter for hearing within 30 days. However, the driver has only 10 days from the initial hearing to file the petition; otherwise, the stay of the suspension is lifted, and the probable cause affidavit will be submitted to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for automatic suspension.

If the driver does file the petition within 10 days, the stay of the suspension of Indiana driving privileges continues until the hearing, following which the court decides whether to grant specialized driving privileges. If the hearing is continued due to congestion of the court calendar, the prosecuting attorney’s motion for a continuance, or the driver’s motion for a continuance with no objection by the prosecutor, the stay of the license suspension will continue in force until the continues until the hearing takes place. However, if the driver seeks a continuance and the prosecutor objects, the suspension goes into effect and the probable cause affidavit is submitted to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Get Back on the Road in Indiana

For most of us, an Indiana driver’s license is necessary to make a living and take care of family needs. If your driver’s license is suspended, immediately contact the experienced Indianapolis driver’s license lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP for help applying for specialized driving privileges. You can reach us through our convenient chat feature, our online contact form, or by calling (317) 648-9560. We offer a free case evaluation to help you determine what the best course of action should be for reinstating your Indiana driving privileges as soon as possible.

Start the process today. Contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP at (317) 648-9560 for a free case evaluation.

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