An Indiana man now living in Mississippi whose Indiana driver’s license was suspended for life after more than two dozen traffic violations cannot receive special Indiana driving privileges that would enable him to obtain a license in Mississippi.
In 2009, George Jones pleaded guilty to Class D felony operating a motor vehicle after being suspended as a habitual traffic violator and Class D felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a prior OWI conviction within five years. As part of his plea agreement, Jones was sentenced on the first felony conviction to three years in prison and a lifetime license suspension and on the second felony conviction to a concurrent term of three years in prison and a two-year suspension of his license.
After he was released from prison in 2010, Jones moved to Mississippi, where he currently lives but cannot obtain a driver’s license unless his driving privileges are restored in Indiana. So, in February 2016, Jones filed a petition for specialized driving privileges in Indiana, arguing, among other things, that he had recently obtained sole physical custody of his two young children and needed specialized driving privileges to work and care for his children.
But the Wayne Superior Court denied Jones’ petition in March, writing that it could not be granted in the interest of public safety.
Jones appealed in the case of George D. Jones v. State of Indiana, et al., 89A01-1604-MI-937, arguing that he had presented overwhelming evidence that pointed to substantial positive changes in his life. He also argued that enforcement of an ignition interlock system would not be difficult and that it could be monitored in the same way in both Indiana and Mississippi.
But in a Wednesday opinion, the Indiana Court of Appeals wrote that it could not conclude that the trial court’s ruling was an abuse of discretion.
Jones’ traffic record includes 27 traffic-related convictions since 1997 and two OWI convictions, the Court of Appeals wrote. Further, the court noted that Jones lives a substantial distance away from Indiana. Additionally, the appellate court noted that Jones would be driving regularly in Mississippi and Louisiana and would occasionally have his two young children in the car.
“The trial court’s concerns about enforceability and public safety under the specific circumstances of this case support its decision to deny Jones’ petition,” the court wrote.