During the recent legislative session, lawmakers passed 167 new laws that Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law. While a few of these laws went into effect immediately due to their urgent nature, most new laws take effect July 1, 2021. Here’s what you should know about the new Indiana laws for 2021.
Driver’s License Suspensions
HEA 1199 changes various aspects of driver’s license suspensions in Indiana. License suspensions are a common penalty in DUI cases, among other types of criminal offenses. The goal of this legislation was to reduce license suspensions based on mostly economic reasons. Some of the relevant provisions of this law include:
- Allowing individuals with license suspensions for failure to pay fees to reinstate their licenses if they get car insurance without paying a reinstatement fee. If they keep car insurance in place for six months, the suspension terminates.
- Nonviolent offenders who have completed their prison sentences or are on probation or parole and enroll in job training or maintain consistent employment can have their license reinstatement fees temporarily waived. If they maintain this status for three years and don’t get any moving violations, the reinstatement fees are permanently waived.
- The traffic amnesty program passed in 2020 is extended. This program allows individuals with suspended licenses for traffic fines from before January 1, 2019, to petition the court for reduced fines.
- People with child support obligations enforced by the Title IV-D agency of the prosecutor’s office may have their driving privileges reinstated.
Defense to OWI
SEA 201 adds a defense to I.C. 9-30-5-1, which makes operating a vehicle with a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II or its metabolite in your blood a Class C misdemeanor. Under the newly revised law, if the person accused of this crime, it is defense that:
- Consumed the controlled substance according to the valid prescription or order of a practitioner acting within the course of their professional practice, OR
- The controlled substance is marijuana or a metabolite of marijuana,
- The person was not intoxicated,
- The person did not cause a traffic accident, AND
- The substance was identified through chemical testing.
Under the previous version of this statute, it was illegal to operate a vehicle with any detectable level of THC or THC metabolites in your system, even if there was no evidence of impairment.
Under HEA 1006, law enforcement officers commit a Class A misdemeanor if they turn off a body-worn camera with the intent to conceal a criminal act.
SEA 255 specifies that “criminal history providers” for the purposes of the expungement statute includes individuals or companies who regularly publish criminal history information on the Internet. This change requires these providers to periodically review their criminal history records for expunged convictions. Previously, this providers had no duty to remove expunged convictions from their Internet records, which could lead to prospective employers still being able to access expunged criminal records.
If a person or a person on behalf of an unemancipated minor files a petition for a protective order, the court shall determine whether granting the order would impact the ability of a school corporation to provide in-person instruction for the person or the unemancipated minor. If the court determines that this type of impact exists, SEA 79 puts procedures in place to notify the school about the protective order.
Penalties for Domestic Battery
SEA 79 also enhances the offense for domestic battery to a Level 6 felony if the offense is committed against a family or household member:
- Who has been issued a protection order that protects the family or household member from the person and the order was in effect at the time that the offense was committed, or
- While a no-contact order that protects the family or household member from the person was in effect at the time that the offense was committed.
The charges for domestic battery also increase to a Level 5 felony offense if the offender has a prior conviction for strangulation against the same family or household member.
Resisting Law Enforcement or Interfering with Public Safety
Under HEA 1097, it is Level 5 felony offense if a person who uses a vehicle to resist law enforcement or interfere with public safety has a prior conviction for either offense that involved the use of a vehicle.
Penalties Upon Sentencing
Current law allows courts to suspend any part of a sentence of certain Level 2 and Level 3 felony convictions, including drug-related convictions. SEA 133, however, allows courts only to suspend that part of a sentence that is in excess of the minimum sentence for a person who has a prior unrelated felony conviction, other than a felony conviction involving marijuana, hashish, hash oil, or salvia divinorum.
Call Us for an Appointment Today
At Arnold Law Office, we keep up-to-date with all the new and revised laws that may affect you and your family. We can answer your questions about new and existing laws and how they may impact your legal case. Contact Arnold Law Office at 765-962-3344 or 866-958-5995 and schedule a time to talk with us about your case.