Habitual Traffic Violator. It sounds nasty, but what does it mean? In Indiana, the BMV has a great deal of power when it comes to driving privileges, and it’s the first and last word on who’s licensed to operate a motor vehicle.
Generally speaking, there’s very little discretion involved, as specific transgressions automatically trigger corresponding penalties. For example, if you get into an accident without auto insurance, this will result in a 90-day suspension and a reinstatement fee.
The Habitual Traffic Violator (HTV) suspension works the same way, except that it’s the harshest penalty the BMV can impose. If you’re declared HTV, the BMV has formally labeled you a dangerous driver. Depending on what you did to earn this status, you’ll be HTV for at least five years, and maybe as long as a decade.
There are two paths to HTV status, and both are hazardous. The first option involves a lot of small mistakes: If you combine any nine traffic violations with one major, auto-related offense in a 10-year period, this will make you HTV for a full five years.
For example, if you’d picked up nine different speeding violations from 2010 to 2013, and then on New Year’s Eve of 2019 you were found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident, that would be enough to earn you an HTV five-year.
The second HTV option is twice as bad: If you’re convicted of three major, auto-related offenses over the course of 10 years, this will result in an HTV designation lasting for 10 years. Examples of some of these major, auto-related offenses include: (a) DUI / OVWI; (b) reckless driving; (c) leaving the scene of an accident; and (d) any felony involving the use of a motor vehicle. Any three convictions of this kind within a 10-year period will result in your driving privileges being suspended for 10 years.
Thanks to Indiana’s laws on Specialized Driving Privileges, however, a suspended license isn’t quite as absolute as it used to be. No judge is required to grant Specialized Driving Privileges, but an awful lot of them are willing to work with someone who’s making a good faith effort to get their life back on track.
Specialized Driving Privileges may be able to help Habitual Traffic Violators regain some measure of vehicular freedom, but at the end of the day, isn’t it better not to be on the naughty list in the first place? An HTV suspension is sure to cause a series of headaches that no one wants, and everyone should take their traffic citations seriously.
If you receive a ticket, consider your options. If the prosecutor offers a diversion agreement—or some other way of avoiding a conviction—take it. If the State is playing hardball, consider hiring an attorney, especially if you have a history of driving convictions or are already flirting with HTV status. If you have any questions, give us a call at 317-632-3642, and remember—always plead the 5th!