In a rural community like Wayne County, having a driver’s license is an absolute must. You generally need to be able to drive to get to work, transport your children, and get medical treatment. When you lose your driver’s license, the consequences as to your ability to support your family can be severe. If you have a driver’s license suspension due to a DUI or another reason, you may be eligible for a “specialized driving privilege,” which can allow you to legally drive on a limited basis.
Eligibility for Specialized Driving Privileges
You might be eligible for specialized driving privileges under Indiana Code § 9-30-16-3 if you had a valid driver’s license that was suspended when you were convicted of:
- A crime for which operation of a motor vehicle is an element of the offense
- Any criminal conviction for operating while intoxicated (OWI)
- Any criminal conviction for boating while intoxicated
- Committing an infraction for exceeding a worksite speed limit for the second time in one (1) year
You also might be eligible for specialized driving privileges if you have never held a valid Indiana driver’s license or you do not have a valid Indiana learner’s permit, but you were an Indiana resident when your license was suspended.
However, you cannot get specialized driving privileges if:
- You were previously granted specialized driving privileges and have more than one criminal conviction for OWI or a related offense, or for knowingly or intentionally violating condition imposed regarding the issuance of specialized driving privilege.
- You were convicted of a crime that involves the element of causing the death of another person that involved the operation of a motor vehicle.
- You have never lived in Indiana.
- You refuse to submit to chemical testing when requested to do so by law enforcement officers, typically when you are suspected of OWI.
Getting Specialized Driving Privileges
If you otherwise qualify for specialized driving privileges, you might be able to avoid a license suspension even before your criminal case is resolved. You could be able to continue driving for certain purposes if you get a specialized driving privilege in this situation.
You generally must notify the court at your initial criminal court hearing that you intend to file a petition for specialized driving privileges. Once you notify the court of your intention, the court must stay your license suspension and will not submit your suspension to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). The court will schedule your hearing on your petition for specialized driving privileges within 30 days of your initial hearing.
You then have 10 days from the date of your initial hearing to file your petition for specialized driving privileges under I.C. 9-30-16-1. If you don’t file the petition within that timeframe, your license will be suspended. If you do file the petition within that timeframe, then your suspension will remain stayed by the court until a hearing is held on your petition and the court makes a decision on your request.
Keeping Your Specialized Driving Privileges
If the court grants your request for specialized driving privileges, it may place conditions on your privileges. For instance, the court could require that you only drive back and forth to your workplace, or that you only drive within a specific distance from your residence. The court also can require that you install an ignition interlock device on any vehicles that you drive, depending on the circumstances.
If you have specialized driving privileges and you are convicted of knowingly or intentionally violating one or more of the conditions set by the court, the court can modify the conditions of or completely revoke your specialized driving privileges.
You also must:
- Maintain proof of insurance for the period in which you have specialized driving privileges
- Carry a copy of the order granting specialized driving privileges with you at all times
- Produce a copy of the order to law enforcement officers upon request
- Carry a validly issued state identification card or driver’s license at all times
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