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Habitual Traffic Violators

Northwest Indiana Habitual Traffic Offender Lawyer

At Stracci Law Group, we understand how stressful the consequences of a habitual traffic offender (HTO) designation can be. However, you may be able to get back on the road if you qualify for a hardship license (hyperlink).

Driving has become such a necessary activity that we often think of it as a right. In Indiana, however, driving is a privilege that the state can take away. At Stracci Law Group, we understand how stressful the consequences of a habitual traffic offender (HTO) designation can be. However, you may be able to get back on the road if you qualify for a hardship license.

Contact the habitual traffic violation lawyers at Stracci Law Group by calling (219) 525-1000 or contacting us online. We serve clients from all over Northwest Indiana, including Crown Point, Gary, and Valparaiso.

What Qualifies You As A Habitual Driving Violator in Indiana?

In Indiana, a habitual driving offender, also known as a habitual traffic violator, is someone with serious traffic violations within a ten year period. Indiana law provides four ways to designate you as a habitual traffic violator (HTV):

  • You were responsible for at least two accidents (during your entire driving history) that resulted in injury or death. This results in a 10-year suspension of your driver’s license.
  • You drove while intoxicated on at least two occasions within a 10-year period, and on these occasions, you caused at least two fatal accidents. This results in a lifetime suspension of your driver’s license.
  • You committed three major offenses. This results in a 10-year suspension.
  • You have committed at least one major offense and at least nine moving violations (excluding parking and equipment offenses). This results in a five-year suspension.

Why You Need An Experienced Lawyer Well Versed In Indiana Traffic Law

Retaining a habitual offender lawyer can help you in two distinct ways. First, your lawyer can fight to obtain a hardship license. Second, your lawyer can help you fight any criminal charges (such as OWI) upon which your habitual traffic offender proceedings might be based.

Major Traffic Violation Offenses

One of the ways that Indiana can declare you a habitual traffic offender is to convict you of “major offenses.” All of the following examples constitute “major offenses” under Indiana law:

  • OWI (DUI)
  • Operating with a BAC of .10 or above prior to 2001
  • Operating with a BAC of .08 or above prior to 2001
  • Drag racing
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Reckless driving
  • Resisting law enforcement under Indiana Code 35-44.1-3-1
  • Hit and run (under the statute enacted in 1991)
  • OWI resulting in death
  • OWI resulting in death with at least .10 BAC in the blood
  • Failure of an operator involved in an accident resulting in death or injury to any person to stop at the scene and provide required information
  • Reckless homicide using a motor vehicle
  • Criminal recklessness (as a felony) involving a motor vehicle
  • Any felony in which operation of a motor vehicle is an element of the offense

The accomplished habitual traffic offender lawyers at Stracci Law Group will work with you to address any potential habitual traffic violations that you may face.

What Are The Penalties For Being a Habitual Traffic Offender?

If Indiana designates you a habitual traffic offender, you will lose your driver’s license for five years, 10 years, or life, depending on the severity of your offenses.

If you commit a major offense after Indiana designates you a “habitual traffic offender,” you could lose your driving privileges for life. Moreover, if you are determined to be a HTV and are caught driving after your license has been suspended, you may be charged with a Level 6 or Level 5 felony depending on your specifical HTV suspension. There are ways, however, of avoiding a lifetime license suspension under certain circumstances.

Potential Legal Defenses

By law, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) must give you 30-days notice that it is about to designate you a habitual traffic offender. However, with a proper defense, you may be able to keep your driving privileges. Following are some of the ways around habitual traffic off driver’s license suspensions:

  • Administrative error. The BMV misrepresented your driving history, perhaps as a result of a clerical error. This happens frequently.
  • Necessity (emergency): You violated traffic regulations due to an emergency that justified your actions. You may have been rushing someone to the hospital, for example.
  • The BMV may have incorrectly counted your offenses. Two offenses in the same stop do not count as two “major violations,” for example, but only one.
  • You might benefit from participating in a Driver Safety Program, which could remove 4 points from your driving record

Specialized Driving Privileges License

Even if Indiana does designate you as a habitual traffic offender, you might qualify for specialized driving privileges, which would allow you to drive for limited purposes (to and from work, for example). You must apply for these privileges, and a judge must approve them.

How the HTO Lawyers at Stracci Law Group Can Help You

When you prepare to defend yourself against an HTO designation, the two most important decisions you will make are (i) your choice to retain an attorney; and (ii) which attorney you retain.

The habitual traffic violator attorneys at Stracci Law Group provide you with the benefit of collective experience in Northwest Indiana courtrooms. Sign up for a free case evaluation so that we can explore your options together.

Contact Our Indiana Habitual Offender Lawyers Today

Take action to remedy your situation. The habitual traffic offender attorneys at Stracci Law Group are available at (219) 525-1000 to schedule a consultation. Alternatively, feel free to contact us online. We serve clients throughout Northwest Indiana, including Hammond, Crown Point, Gary, Portage, Merrillville, and Valparaiso.

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FAQ

How long are you considered a habitual traffic offender?

You are a habitual traffic offender for as long as your driver’s license suspension remains current for this reason. In some cases, this means for your entire lifetime.

Is a habitual traffic offender a felony charge?

No, habitual traffic offender designation is not a crime per se because it is an administrative sanction, not a crime. The BMV imposes this sanction, and the BMV is not a court. Driving on a suspended license as a habitual traffic offender is a felony, however.

What should I do if my license is suspended as a habitual traffic violator?

The most important thing you can do (if you have not done so already) is to contact an attorney to review your case. An attorney will be able to review your habitual traffic violator status for any potential defenses, as well as explore a possible hardship license.

What if I was caught driving after my license was suspended as HTO?

Driving after your license has been suspended because you are designated an HTO is at least a Level 6 felony. You can be imprisoned for anywhere from six to 30 months, and Indiana can suspend your license for life. If your license was already subject to a lifetime suspension when you were caught driving, you have committed a Level 5 felony. Indiana can fine you up to $10,000 and imprison you for one to six years for a Level 5 felony.

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