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Specialized Driving Privileges

Published in Criminal Law on October 1, 2015.

In Indiana, driving is a necessity. However, under the law, driving is considered a privilege that can be taken away in certain instances. Luckily, Indiana law allows for someone to petition the court for driving privileges if they meet certain criteria. On January 1, 2015, a new law went into effect that made it significantly easier for someone with a suspended license to drive during a suspension. Ind. Code 9-30-16 eliminates the hardship and probationary license. Instead, there are only specialized driving privileges. Specialized driving privileges allow for a greater number of suspended drivers to drive during their suspensions.

The Indiana Traffic Code will be updated again effective July 1, 2015. Until that time, the following is important information you need to know before you try to petition for specialized driving privileges.

Who is NOT eligible for a specialized driving permit?

Ind. Code 9-30-16-1 specifically lays out five circumstances in which an individual is not eligible to petition for specialized driving privileges. These circumstances are:

  1. If you have never had a valid Indiana driver’s license;
  2. If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL);
  3. If you have refused to submit to a chemical test offered under Ind. Code 9-30-6[1];
  4. If you have been convicted of an offense that includes operating a motor vehicle and causing the death of another person.
  5. If you have previously been granted specialized driving privileges and you have more than one (1) conviction under Ind. Code 9-30-16-5 for knowingly or intentionally violating a condition imposed by the court under Ind. Code 9-30-16-2.[2]

All individuals who do not fall into any of these five categories and have a suspended license are eligible to petition for specialized driving privileges.

What can the court do if you are eligible for a specialized driving permit

If you are eligible for specialized driving privileges, the court may stay the person’s suspension and grant the petition. The court has complete discretion on whether or not to grant a petition for specialized driving privileges because Ind. Code 9-30-16-3(a) specifically uses the word “may.” This means that even if you are eligible under the statute, the court, in its discretion, can determine that you should not be granted the specialized driving privileges. However, if the court grants the petition, the specialized driving permit must be granted for at least one hundred eighty (180) days.

In addition to simply granting the petition, the court can impose additional restrictions. These can include restrictions on driving during certain times, in certain locations, or requiring an ignition interlock device. If you are required to have the ignition interlock device as a condition of your specialized driving privileges, the period of such installation will be credited towards the suspension.

What do you have to do once you are granted specialized driving privileges

There are three (3) things you must do when you are granted specialized driving privileges. First, you must have proof of insurance that is effective during the period you have been granted specialized driving privileges. Most courts will not even grant your petition until you have shown proof of insurance. Second, you must have a copy of the order granting the specialized driving privileges every time you operate a vehicle. Finally, you must provide a copy of the order upon the request of a police officer.

[1] Ind. Code 9-30-6 addresses chemical tests, i.e. breathalyzers, which are given when a police officer suspects someone is driving under the influence. If you refuse to submit to the chemical test, your license will be suspended and, during such suspension, you cannot petition for specialized driving privileges.

[2] Ind. Code 9-30-16-2 addresses suspension of driving privileges for persons convicted of driving offenses that resulted in serious bodily injury or death of another. If you violate any suspension ordered because of such an offense, are convicted under Ind. Code 9-30-16-5 for such a violation, and have previously been granted specialized driving privileges, you cannot be granted specialized driving privileges again.

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