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Post-conviction relief unavailable for traffic infractions

June 22, 2015

A man ticketed for a traffic violation and speeding is not entitled to post-conviction relief or relief from judgment, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday. Post-conviction relief is only available when someone has committed a crime.

Eric D. Smith was ticketed twice in 2000 – once for disobeying a traffic signal and once for speeding. He failed to pay fines on either ticket. Nearly 14 years later, he filed a motion for relief from judgment, pro se, under Ind. Trial Rule 60(B)(8), alleging he just found out about the cases, he was serving in the military at the time of the infractions and someone had stolen his car and driver’s license and must have impersonated him.

The trial court denied Smith’s motion for relief in both cases as well as his motion for post-conviction relief.

Smith argued that he filed his motions in a reasonable time, as required under the trial rule, but Smith never specifically stated when he contacted the trial court and found out about the infractions. He also didn’t meet his burden of showing relief was justified as his military records do not indicate where he was in May or July 2000 when the infractions occurred.

In addition, Ind. Post-Conviction Rule 1 does not provide a remedy for Smith, as traffic infractions are civil, rather than criminal, in nature.

The case is Eric D. Smith v. State of Indiana, 33A04-1404-IF-187.
 

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