Within the last few years I have dealt with several cases where client’s were not served well by inexperienced attorneys taking on a dui prosecution in two specific areas: 1.) options for one’s drivers license when a refusal to submit to a breath test or blood draw has been alleged and 2.) whether one with multiple dui convictions can be in position to delay a case as a means to circumvent the ten year habitual suspension license statute.
The good news is that unbeknownst to too many Indiana lawyers relying on old law, one accused of a refusal to submit to a breath test or blood draw can in fact be granted specialized driving privileges in the State of Indiana. Under special circumstances one alleged to have refused a breath test or blood draw for alleged intoxication can petition the court for such driving privileges so long as an ignition interlock is affixed to the accused driver’s vehicle. This option under Indiana law exists both while a criminal case is pending as well as at sentencing following a case conviction.
Specialized driving privileges, often referred to as a “work license,” are often a critical component to preserving an individual’s employment while a case is pending and/or following the resolution of a dui case prosecution.
When the original refusal statutes went into effect, Indiana law did not permit one alleged to have refused to submit to a breath test or blood draw to obtain specialized driving privileges either while the dui prosecution was pending or post prosecution.
Unfortunately, too many lawyers not specializing in the field of Indiana dui defense continue to incorrectly advise clients that such specialized driving privileges are not an option when a refusal has been alleged. This mistaken legal counsel is far too frequently met with harmful results for one seeking to preserve their livelihoods.
That being said, depending upon the court and Indiana county, securing specialized driving privileges, even with an ignition interlock, can be a challenging endeavor when a refusal has been alleged. However, this legal option now existing in Indiana can often be an essential bargaining tool when fashioning the best legal options for a client seeking to maintain employment and other necessities of life.
Just as I must frequently educate Indiana attorneys as to the proper interpretation of the specialized driving privileges statute as applied to refusal allegations, I must all too often correct lawyers as to mistaken legal strategy when it comes to the Indiana Habitual Traffic Violator statutes.
As a result of a very poorly worded Indiana Habitual Traffic Violator statute, even lawyers are confused as to who qualifies as a potential 10 year license suspension habitual offender and who does not.
The problem lies in the Indiana habitual statute’s use of the word “judgement” to define the major moving violations within a ten year period to qualify as a habitual traffic violator in Indiana. While the word “judgement” often refers to a conviction within nearly all legal contexts, in the case of Indiana Habitual Traffic Violator eligibility it does not.
Rather, the targeted focus of investigation is not the date of conviction to determine the 10 year window of HTV eligibility, but the date of incident (s). Therefore, legal attempts to delay a prosecution so as to manipulate the proceedings to get a conviction past the potential ten year mark to avoid additional habitual traffic violator penalties will not only be fruitless, but potentially harmful to pre trial negotiations on behalf of a client.
No matter the specific circumstances within a dui case prosecution, it is always vital to insure that potential legal counsel defending an Indiana owi case is well versed as to updated Indiana dui laws.
Only by keeping abreast of any and all updates, modifications and clarifications within our state’s dui laws can a capable lawyer positively impact the options for a client depending upon the best legal outcome possible.