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COA: Lifetime suspension of driving privileges is not a punishment

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a man’s claim that his lifetime suspension of driving privileges is cruel and unusual punishment, upholding the suspension. They held the suspension is not punitive.

Timothy Hazelwood is a habitual traffic violator who has had his license suspended 17 times since 1991. He’s been convicted several times of driving while driving privileges are suspended. He was convicted in 1998 of Class C felony operating a vehicle after his license had been suspended for life and was sentenced to three years in prison.

In 2012, he sought to reinstate his driving privileges and overturn the lifetime suspension. The trial court denied the petition, saying I.C. 9-30-10-14 prevented it from reinstating his license and that the statute was not unconstitutional.

In Timothy Ladana Hazelwood v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1305-MI-239, Hazelwood admits that under I.C. 9-30-10-14 and -15, he cannot have his driving privileges reinstated, but he claimed the statutory prohibition is unconstitutional as applied to him.

He argued that by preventing him from ever having his driver’s license reinstated, the state is effectively continuing to punish him for previous traffic-related offenses. He also claimed the suspension with any possible reinstatement is cruel and unusual punishment.

The Court of Appeals rejected his claims, noting it has previously ruled there is no absolute right to obtain and keep a driver’s license. Whether it is for life or a limited time, the suspension of one’s driving privileges does not constitute punishment, Judge Paul Mathias wrote.

 

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  • Suspension Hurts Families
    if a person simply cannot drive safely he should not be allowed to drive. That is not the issue. The issue is that most lifetime suspensions are imposed on peoploe who simply cannot afford the fines and fees imposed on them. To a wealthy person this isn't a problem; they can easily pay their fines and fees, avoid the initial suspension and thus most of the citations, which are just for driving while suspended. Of course a rich man can just take a taxi to work. A poor man drives or loses his job and often his home and family. Lifetime suspensions imposed on the poor do not improve traffic safety, because theere's no evidence they are unsafe drivers. This could be determined independently by the point system.
  • Necessary
    My problem lies with the responsibilities an adult may have that they can not comply with because they have a lifetime suspension. I had one DUI & while I'm not proud of that to have a lifetime suspension now because of driving on suspensions seems extreme. Since my conviction I have graduated from college with a BSW & I am a single parent. Tell me how I am supposed to obtain a respectable job making enough money, live on my own, and raise a child without being able to drive? How am I to be reliable without depending on others and their reliability? How does one live in the middle of corn country & not drive for 15 years? It's insanity & it is wrong. These people don't care about you & your daily struggles. They don't care whether you reform & become better. In fact they are hoping to see you again because the more they see your face the more money they get pouring in. PS tell me what purpose my 6 weeks in Rockville Women's Prison served? For multiple driving while suspended. As well as the young lady who rode over with me in order to serve her 17 days in DOC. The tax payers are covering these expenses.
  • we need change more than ever.
    They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?
    • right to liberty and pursuit of happiness
      To claim a lifetime suspension of ones drivers license is "not punishment" is nothing short of ludicrous. It flies arbitrarily in the face of everything that is right and just. I am in this boat as well. My last drinking/driving offense was 20 years ago. I am rehabilitated and a threat to no one. I continue to pat my taxes and I am a productive citizen. Yet, I cannot drive. Because of that, I cannot find a job, get my minor son to and from his activities, or even transport myself or family members to the hospital in the event of a medical emergency. A lifetime suspension of my drivers license for something that occurred 20 years ago is cruel - it is unusual and it is punishment (regardless of what the courts say.
    • hazelwood.vs.state
      I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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    1. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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