COA affirms denial of rescission of lifetime license ban

A man failed to persuade the Indiana Court of Appeals to restore his driving privileges after a trial court rejected his petition for rescission of a lifetime suspension.

Wayne Superior Judge Darrin M. Dolehanty denied the petition and the COA affirmed in Richard Scott Lambert v. Michael Shipman and Kent Abernathy, 89A01-1508-MI-1253. Dolehanty said he felt not enough time had passed since Richard Lambert’s third lifetime suspension in 2011 and there had not been a substantial change in his circumstances to make the lifetime suspension unreasonable. The court also was concerned with multiple past violations of license suspensions and determined lifting the lifetime suspension was not in the best interests of society.

Lambert argued that he had never been convicted of drunken driving, never caused injury or death while driving, and that all his violations were for speeding or driving on a suspended license as a habitual traffic offender. His violations of court orders not to drive were collected while driving to and from work as the owner of a construction company. Lambert argued the trial court lacked authority to deny a petition for rescission of lifetime suspension brought under I.C. 9-30-10-14.1, which provides an avenue of relief for Hoosiers whose driving privileges are suspended for life.

The Court of Appeals rejected that argument. “Given the language employed in the statute and the nature of the conditions that must be met before relief may be granted, we conclude that the legislature intended to afford the trial court discretion in determining whether to rescind a lifetime suspension of driving privileges," Judge Robert Altice wrote. "Thus, contrary to Lambert’s assertion, the right to petition the court with specific averments relating to the required conditions does not equate to an automatic right to relief.  

“The statute does not preclude the trial court’s consideration of the time elapsed since the suspension order as part of its determination whether rescission is in society’s best interest, particularly where the petitioner has multiple lifetime suspensions. We therefore conclude that the trial court did not err in this regard,” Altice wrote.

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