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The HTV Cliff

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2012-12-20


There’s been a lot of discussion about the proximity of our economy to a fiscal cliff. But there’s another type of cliff’s edge on which thousands of unaware Indiana valid drivers sit.

In Indiana, a person can become a habitual traffic violator (HTV) and lose his or her driving privileges for a period of time ranging from five to ten years. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is the administrative entity responsible for making that determination. A person who is caught driving while he is HTV can face felony charges and a lifetime license suspension.

One common way that a person gets classified as HTV is when that person accumulates one major driving violation (such as operating while intoxicated or reckless driving) along with nine moving violations (such as speeding) within a 10-year period.

Meet Joe. Joe is a fictional 26 year old salesman. Joe drives a lot of miles each year so he can generate new sales and maintain relationships with his customers. Joe is married and when he’s not working or traveling he stays busy caring for his two-year-old son.

When Joe was 16 he was caught driving a friend’s car. Joe had permission from his friend, but Joe did not have a valid driver’s license at the time. The police officer found a half full bottle of Vodka in the backseat. Joe was not drinking, but he did admit to the officer that he knew the bottle was there. As a result, Joe was placed on juvenile probation. Joe’s parents grounded him for one month and didn’t allow him to get his driver’s license until he was 18. Joe knew what he did was against the law but he didn’t realize that getting caught driving without first obtaining a driver’s license counted as a major driving violation.

Just a few weeks before Joe turned 19, he actually received two different speeding tickets from two different officers on the same day. Joe’s parents took away his car for two months and made him pay both tickets.

Joe went to college at Purdue. His girlfriend back then attended Ohio State. For the first two years of college, it seemed like Joe was always driving to Columbus to visit his girlfriend. Joe accumulated a few more speeding tickets during those college years.

During a Purdue football weekend, an officer stopped Joe’s car for running a red light. Joe was actually driving slow at the time and was trying to clear an intersection after a few drunk tailgaters ran out in front of him. Joe politely explained his reasons to the officer without success.

Joe paid that ticket just like he did with all the other ones. Joe’s mom taught Joe to take care of those types of things promptly. So, Joe did. He always mailed in a money order to the address listed on the ticket.

Even though Joe drives hundreds of miles each week for work, Joe had gone almost three years since his last traffic ticket. Unfortunately, a state police officer stopped Joe last month on the toll road for speeding after Joe sped up to get around a moving truck that was in the passing lane. Joe apologized to the officer. The officer handed Joe a ticket and explained where Joe needed to mail in his payment.

The next day, Joe mailed in his payment. Joe didn’t know that by doing so he had accumulated one major driving violation (never receiving a license – when he was 16) and nine moving violations within a ten year period.

By the end of the week, notification from the BMV will be delivered to Joe’s home advising him that his license will be suspended for five years.

Happy Holidays!


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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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