Indiana drivers travel a lot of miles daily. Whether commuting to work, running errands, or just taking in the scenery, licensed drivers in the Hoosier state depend on the state’s roadways to get around. A suspended license can severely impact the ability to earn a living and take care of necessities like getting groceries or going to the doctor. Amendments to the Indiana hardship license statute in 2020 make getting you back on the road for necessary travel easier than ever.
Understanding the Indiana Hardship License Statute
As our parents frequently reminded us, driving is a privilege. To retain the privilege, Indiana drivers must comply with the state’s traffic and motor vehicle laws. Following are examples of circumstances that can result in the suspension of your Indiana driver’s license:
- Failing to pay fines;
- Failing to pay child support;
- Refusing or failing a breathalyzer test;
- Failure to demonstrate proof of financial responsibility (auto insurance coverage);
- Receiving a conviction for operating while intoxicated;
- Committing certain criminal acts while using a motor vehicle;
- Accumulating too many points for speeding or other motor vehicle offenses; or
- Driving with a suspended license.
The Indiana hardship license statute, Indiana Code § 9-30-16-3, sets out a procedure for Hoosier drivers with a suspended license to seek permission to drive for necessities such as getting to and from your job. The 2020 amendments to the statute simplify the process, but it can help only if you understand the process for getting specialized driving privileges.
What Does It Mean to have a Suspended Indiana License?
To legally operate a motor vehicle on the roadways, Indiana drivers much be licensed through the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). When a driver’s license is suspended, you are not legal to operate a vehicle until the suspension is lifted.
A suspension may be ordered by a court, such as for failure to pay child support, or it may be initiated by the BMV for administrative matters, such as accumulating too many points on your driving record. In either case, the driver should receive notice of the suspension, usually by mail at the address listed on the driver’s license.
The Indiana Hardship License Statute: The Road to Specialized Driving Privileges
Indiana’s hardship license statute establishes a procedure for suspended drivers to request specialized driving privileges. Generally, a driver with a license suspension must file in court a petition requesting a hardship license. If the driver meets certain requirements, the court may grant the request for specialized driving privileges in an order that specifies the limited purposes for which driving is permissible during the period of the suspension.
Prior to July 1, 2020, the statute allowed the court to grant specialized driving privileges for periods between six and 30 months—no more and no less. If a driver needed a hardship license to last longer than the period authorized by the court, it was necessary to begin the process from scratch again.
In 2020, the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 39 (SEA 39), which simplified the hardship license process and gave the court latitude to authorize a hardship license length appropriate to the applicant’s circumstances.
Limits Remaining under the Indiana Hardship License Statute
While the 2020 amendments broadened court discretion, the amended hardship license statute still limits who is eligible to apply for specialized driving privileges. In particular, a driver whose license suspension arises from the following circumstances is ineligible to apply for or obtain a hardship license:
- A driver who has never resided in the state;
- A driver whose license was suspended for refusal to submit to a chemical test for intoxication;
- A driver determined by the BMV to be incompetent or unfit to drive under Indiana Code § 9-24-10-7; or
- A driver whose suspension is based on reckless driving under Indiana Code § 9-21-8-52(e) or passing a stopped school bus with its arm signal extended in violation of Indiana Code § 9-21-12-1.
Where to Get Help with Reinstatement of a Suspended Indiana License
The Indiana BMV provides basic guidance on how to seek reinstatement of a suspended Indiana license. Indiana drivers may check their Viewable Driving Record online by logging into mybmv.com. There, a driver will see the reason for the suspension and the earliest date on which the suspension could be lifted. After confirming the cause, the driver should take steps to remedy the reason for the suspension but may apply for specialized driving privileges in the meantime. If your license has been suspended and you need help with reinstatement or navigating the process of seeking specialized driving privileges under the Indiana hardship license statute, working with an Indiana hardship license lawyer is your best bet. To consult with an experienced driving privileges lawyer, call Camden & Meridew, P.C. at 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form.