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Surprise! Your license is suspended

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2012-11-01


Many of us probably take driving for granted, but driving is actually a privilege, not a right. Just ask the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Staying on top of the BMV’s rules can save you a lot of trouble. One ticket and a little absent-mindedness can equal big problems when it comes to your ability to drive.

Meet Tim. Tim is 22, born and raised in Fort Wayne. Tim attended college at IU Bloomington and started a new job back in northern Indiana in August. Tim drives an old Subaru. Tim’s driver’s license is suspended. But Tim has no knowledge of that, yet.

Tim first started driving when he was 17. He borrowed his parents’ car on occasion when he was in high school. When Tim left home for college, Tim’s parents moved into a condo. Tim didn’t think to inform the BMV that his address had changed.

When Tim was a sophomore in college, he sometimes borrowed other people’s cars with permission. One time he got a speeding ticket. Tim explained to the officer that he was driving a friend’s car. He gave the officer his license and something that looked like the registration that he found in the glove box. The officer wrote Tim a ticket and told him that he needed to pay the ticket within 60 days. Remember, Tim was in college. He had a lot going on. Tim forgot to pay the ticket.

A couple of months later, Tim thought about the ticket but realized he hadn’t received anything in the mail telling him that he owed anything. Tim even called home and asked his parents if anything showed up. Nothing. A few days later, Tim returned home for the summer and Tim’s parents surprised him with his very own used vehicle. They even paid for his first year of auto insurance.

Tim had no idea that three days after his parents got him a car that his license was suspended indefinitely for failing to appear in court for his speeding ticket in Bloomington. The BMV is only required to mail notice of the suspension to the last known address. Remember, Tim’s parents moved and Tim never provided the BMV with an updated address.

Tim didn’t drive a lot in college. When he did drive, he was pretty safe. When Tim’s car insurance was up for renewal, Tim opted for the three-month policy because money was tight. Tim forgot to renew his car insurance after that.

In a few weeks, Tim is going to get pulled over for having a headlight out. Tim will be charged with operating while suspended and an equipment violation. Tim’s car will be towed. Tim will be confused.

A few days later, Tim will go to the BMV branch and provide notice of his new address. The person working at the BMV will tell Tim that he needs to pay the speeding ticket from Bloomington before he can become valid again. Tim will contact the Clerk’s office in Bloomington (Monroe County) and pay his fine and court costs via credit card. Tim will be told that it could take several days before the BMV would be notified. Tim will also decide to pay the “equipment violation” ticket and “operating while suspended” ticket.

Shortly thereafter, Tim will get a notification from the BMV requesting proof that the vehicle Tim was driving at the time of the speeding ticket had insurance. The notice will go on to state that his driving privileges will be suspended for 90-days if he doesn’t show proof by the end of the month. Tim will have no idea how to provide that proof. He hasn’t seen the person who lent him the car in over a year.

The next week, Tim will get another notification from the BMV. This one will inform him that his license is suspended for 90 days for the “operating while suspended” violation. The following week, Tim will get another BMV notice informing him that his license will be suspended for one year for a repeat insurance violation unless he can prove that he had insurance at the time he was pulled over for the missing headlight.

One ticket and a little bit of absent-mindedness can equal big problems when it comes to your ability to drive. Just ask Tim. Oh that’s right, Tim doesn’t know that yet.


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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. _This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.

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