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Judges uphold 10-year suspension of driver’s license

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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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