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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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  • 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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