It is not often that Indiana appellate court rulings defer to the arguments put forth by those appealing the actions of governmental agencies. However, a recent appellate decision that has gone against the actions of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is a welcome one and a long time in coming.
Specifically, as I have touched upon within prior pages of my defense website, the actions undertaken by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles in regard to the imposition of license suspensions often not only contravene the intention of court orders but also confound common sense.
Where the Bureau of Motor Vehicles within Indiana has been delegated the power and authority to impose administrative license suspensions in conjunction with dui prosecutions and/or traffic violations, it has not always used its powers in a rational manner. In such circumstances appellate court review of the actions of the BMV to suspend licenses has been given broad deference in the absence of administrative action that is blatantly against the public interest.
Thanks to Kenneth Falk of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, such an obvious case of the BMV’s misuse of its suspension authority has been challenged and temporarily halted in a case directed against a mother within Bloomington Indiana.
The woman in question although initially eligible for the designation as a Habitual Traffic Vilolator (HTV) due to the accumulation of adverse points for driving offenses to her license, was never in fact provided with notice of such a designation. In fact, in the wake of several programs within which she participated in to lift her family out of poverty with the aid of a reinstated license authorized by the BMV, this woman has served as a role model for everything our court system aims for in rehabilitating one who has now been in position to uplift her family and dependants out of government assistance for the betterment of society as a whole.
No longer dependant upon the assistance of governmental tax supported programs, this mother’s ability to drive and support her family without any further traffic violations has allowed her to begin a course of conduct claimed to be encouraged within our legal system.
Of course this story was not allowed to be acknowledged for the success that it is due to the mechanical and dispassionate enforcement procedures of the Indiana BMV without any application of common sense when applied to the circumstances of this individual and many others who have not appealed former arbitrary decisions of the BMV counter the the public interest.
Four Years after this woman was granted a reinstated license with which she has begun a full and productive law abiding life, the bueracratic will of the Indiana BMV reared its head to designate an HTV designation to this woman’s license a full four years after reinstating the license! Acknowledging that a mistake had been made, the bureau cavalierly took the position that despite the strides this woman has taken both for the betterment of herself, her family and society, her former driving record warranted an HTV designation and as such needs to be implemented regardless of a four year lapse of time within which to impose the suspension.
The appellate court to the relief of many legal advocates has restored some legal sanity to the suspension process. In curtailing the bureau’s unbridled ability to unilaterally suspend one’s driver’s license no matter the hardship of the circumstances created by the bureau’s own negligence, the appellate court has finally provided a case example whereby common sense and fundumental fairness must trump the deference customarily extended to the suspension powers granted to the bureau of motor vehicles.
Despite the bureau’s inherent suspension authority, the court has determined that the lapse of time between the reinstatement of the petitioner’s license and the discovery of the bureau’s mistake four years later provides an extenuating circumstance by which fundemental fairness must trump the bureau’s authority in the name of sound public policy considerations.
At the present time the BMV has announced that it is keeping its options open as to furthering an appeal of the appellate court decision. For the sake of common decency, rationality and preventing needless waste of public resources in challenging a reasoned decision founded upon compassionate common sense, let us hope and encourage the legal counsel for the Indiana BMV to learn from this wise decision and not attempt to save face any longer.