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Habitual traffic violator’s conviction upheld

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Inaction by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to update a man’s driving record to reflect his lifetime suspended license is not enough to nullify a statutory requirement that his lifetime suspension be imposed, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Joshua McCaine Pillow argued that his conviction for Class C felony operating a motor vehicle after driving privileges had been forfeited for life should be overturned because neither his BMV driving record nor a 2010 judgment convicting him of Class D felony driving as a habitual traffic offender indicated his driving privileges were forfeited for life.

Pillow pleaded guilty in 2010 to Class D felony operating a motor vehicle while suspended as a habitual traffic violator; the agreement provided he would receive a lifetime suspension of driving privileges. He was pulled over in 2011 for driving with his headlights off and arrested for driving as a habitual traffic violator. His conviction on the charge led to a six-year sentence.

Indiana Code 9-30-10-17 says that a person who operates a motor vehicle after his or her driving privileges are forfeited for life under I.C. 9-30-10-16 commits a Class C felony. Pillow’s 2010 conviction falls under Section 16 and says that one who is convicted under that statute “forfeits the privilege of operating a motor vehicle for life.”

“The State was not obliged in the case before us to prove Pillow knew of his lifetime forfeiture. Knowledge of a lifetime forfeiture is not an element of Indiana Code § 9-30-10-17, so proof of knowledge is not necessary to sustain a conviction,” Judge Melissa May wrote in Joshua McCaine Pillow v. State of Indiana, 71A04-1206-CR-325.

The judges also held that his recent conviction wasn’t improper because at the time of his offense the BMV hadn’t received notice of the 2010 conviction.

 

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