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Appellate court reinstates habitual traffic violator charge

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Finding a trial court abused its discretion when it granted a man’s motion to dismiss a Class D felony operating a vehicle as a habitual traffic violator charge, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed and ordered the charge reinstated.

Chad Bryant received notice in 2011 from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles that his license was suspended because he had three unrelated convictions for motor vehicle offenses over the course of ten years. However, the letter from the BMV incorrectly included a charge that had been dismissed. Bryant does, however, have three unrelated convictions within that time frame.

He was pulled over in June 2012 and told police his license was suspended. That’s when the state charged him with operating as a habitual traffic violator. He filed a motion to dismiss, arguing his suspension wasn’t valid in 2012 because the notice informing him of his HTV status was incorrect. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss.

“Here, Bryant argues that, because one of the convictions the BMV listed on its HTV notice was actually a charge that the State dismissed, he did not commit the convictions underlying his HTV determination and there was thus a material error,” Judge Rudolph Pyle III wrote. “Based on the Supreme Court’s decisions in (Starks v. State, 816 N.E.2d 32 (Ind. 2004)), and (State v. Oney, 993 N.E.2d 157 (Ind. 2013)), he contends that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it granted his motion to dismiss because it could not have convicted him for operating a vehicle as an HTV where there was a material error in the HTV determination. However, we disagree.

"In the instant case, Bryant has not challenged his HTV determination, either through the BMV or judicial review. Accordingly, in line with the preceding judicial precedent, we need not address whether the BMV’s erroneous listing of Bryant’s charges was a material error because we must consider his suspension valid until he directly challenges it. As a result, we conclude that the State properly charged Bryant with Class D felony operating a vehicle as an HTV as a matter of law and that the trial court abused its discretion when it granted Bryant’s motion to dismiss. We reverse the trial court’s dismissal and remand for further proceedings.”

Judge Cale Bradford concurred in result, saying the case could be decided on the basis that Bryant cannot establish his suspension suffers from material error within the meaning of the holding in Oney and that the suspension was invalid.

The case is State of Indiana v. Chad Bryant, 32A01-1306-CR-282.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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