Starting in 2019, the Indiana legislature has given individuals who are charged with Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI) charges to avoid an immediate suspension of their licenses, which is typically what happened following an OWI arrest in the past. Under the newly amended Indiana Code (I.C.) § 9-30-16-1, you might be able to “stay” or delay your license suspension from the very beginning of your OWI case. This is a new tool for individuals charged with OWI that you should take advantage of if you are eligible to do so.
License Suspension and OWI Charges in the Past
In the past, after an OWI arrest, you typically would appear in court for an initial hearing within a few days. At that hearing, if the judge found that there was evidence of intoxication at the time of your arrest, which usually is your breath or blood test results showing a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more, then the judge immediately suspended your license and notified the BMV of your suspension. Your only option at that point was to file a petition for specialized driving privileges, get the necessary insurance coverage, and wait for a hearing. This process could take a few months, during which you would remain unable to drive at all.
License Suspension and OWI Charges in 2019
As of January 1, 2019, however, under I.C. 9-30-16-1(g), you can advise the Court at your initial hearing that you intend to apply for specialized driving privileges (SDP). At that point, the Court MUST stay or delay your license suspension for 30 days. However, you only have ten days from the date of your initial hearing to make sure you are eligible for SDP, get the required insurance coverage, and file your petition for SDP. If you don’t file this petition within the ten-day period, your license suspension will go into effect.
If you successfully file your petition for SDP within the required ten-day period, the Court will further delay the suspension of your license until it has held a hearing on your SDP petition. During this time, you still will be able to drive as usual. At the SDP petition hearing, the Court then will decide whether to granted you SDP or not.
Keep in mind that asking for a continuance of your SDP hearing, for whatever reason, will cause your license suspension to go into effect IF the prosecutor objects to the continuance. If the prosecutor does not object to the continuance, however, then your suspension will NOT go into effect. A request for a continuance by the prosecutor or the court will NOT affect your ability to drive until the rescheduled SDP hearing.
Eligibility Requirements for a Specialized Driving Privilege
You still must meet specific eligibility requirements to qualify for SDP. Certain individuals do not qualify for SDP in the state of Indiana, including, but not limited to, the following:
· You refused to submit to chemical testing under I.C. 9-30-6 or 9-30-7
· You were previously been granted specialized driving privileges and have more than one conviction for knowingly or intentionally violating condition imposed regarding the issuance of specialized driving privilege under I.C. 9-30-16.5
· You have never been an Indiana resident
The Court also still can place restrictions on when and where you can drive if it decides to grant you SDP. You also may have to meet other conditions, such as installing and maintaining an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
Don’t Delay and Avoid a License Suspension in OWI Cases
Under the newly revised Indiana law, you might be able to keep driving for a significant period during your DWI charges. However, if you don’t act fast following your arrest, you can miss out on this crucial chance to delay your license suspension. Contact Arnold Law Office today at 765-962-3344 or 866-958-5995 to schedule an appointment to meet with Jeffrey T. Arnold about your case.