Reversal: BMV must report driver’s expunged OWI conviction

A trial court erred in prohibiting the Bureau of Motor Vehicles from reporting the operating while intoxicated conviction of a driver who had his criminal record expunged.

The Indiana Court of Appeals found the court’s order went too far in In the Matter of the Expungement of J.S.: State of Indiana, et al. v. J.S., 16A04-1503-MI-89. The panel reversed the expungement order in part and remanded with instructions for the court to amend the order to specifically allow the BMV to comply with Indiana and federal laws that require disclosure of the conviction to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System.

“In sum, we cannot foresee a situation where the General Assembly would intend to (1) create a law that is in direct conflict with existing state and federal law, (2) put Indiana at risk of losing substantial sums of federal aid, or (3) risk the de-certification of Indiana’s CDL program. Likewise, we believe that the recent amendment to Indiana Code section 35-38-9-2, which expressly allows the BMV to comply with the reporting requirements of 49 C.F.R. § 384.225 and Indiana Code section 9-24-6-2(d), indicates that the General Assembly has always intended for the BMV to comply with said laws,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote.

“We conclude that the trial court’s order prohibiting the BMV from doing so is contrary to the intent of the General Assembly. In addition, even if we were to conclude otherwise, pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, any application of Indiana Code section 35-38-9-6 which would require noncompliance with the relevant federal authority would be without effect.”   

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