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Judges uphold 10-year suspension of driver’s license

November 28, 2012

A Porter County man who fought the Bureau of Motor Vehicles' decision to suspend his license for being a habitual traffic violator lost his case before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Richard Thomas had three qualifying driving convictions within a 10-year period, with the last occurring in May 2008. In December 2011, the BMV notified Thomas that he qualified as a HTV and that his driving privileges would be suspended for 10 years beginning in January 2012.

Thomas sought an administrative review and judicial review of the BMV’s petition; the BMV affirmed his suspension and the trial court denied his petition for review.

Thomas argued that the notice from the BMV was untimely and that a statute of limitations should apply, but he never specified what statutory limitation period should apply. Indiana Code 9-30-10 does not include a statute of limitations, but the court has previously ruled the two-year statute of limitations doesn’t apply. The Court of Appeals concluded, based on a recent Supreme Court decision, that the general 10-year statute of limitations in I.C. 34-11-1-2 applies.

The limitations begin tolling after the third conviction qualifying one as a HTV, not with the first offense, as Thomas argued. The judges also pointed out that it’s up to the General Assembly to decide whether a shorter limitations period is appropriate.

In Richard Thomas v. Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 64A03-1204-PL-191, the Court of Appeals also rejected Thomas’ claim that the doctrine of laches applies. He argues the suspension would result in extreme unfairness because “in the years since his last qualifying conviction, he has ‘altered his behavior to effectively render himself a safe driver,’” the opinion says.

“However, we are unconvinced by Thomas’s self-serving statement regarding his belief that he has altered his behavior in a manner such to render him a ‘safe driver,’ and conclude that it falls far short of demonstrating that the public interest would be threatened by the BMV’s conduct in the instant matter,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote.

 

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