COA reverses stay of man’s driving suspension

A northern Indiana man whose driving privileges were suspended for a variety of driving-related offenses, including operating while intoxicated, cannot have those suspensions stayed after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that such a stay is contrary to state law.

In Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, et al. v. Daniel N. Newlin, 45A03-1611-MI-2457, police stopped Daniel Newlin for speeding and for failing to merge for an emergency vehicle. When the officer who stopped Newlin observed that he was unsteady, was slurring his speech and had blood-shot eyes, the officer advised Newlin of Indiana’s complied consent law, but he refused to submit to a chemical test.

As a result, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles suspended Newlin’s driving privileges for two years, effective through January 2018. Additionally, Newlin was convicted of operating while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, and the trial court suspended his driving privileges for one year.

Then, the BMV again suspended Newlin’s driving privileges for failing to file insurance, effective through August 2016. The preceding June, Newlin completed a court-approved alcohol program and obtained insurance.

Newlin then subsequently filed for specialized driving privileges in Lake Circuit Court, claiming only that his license had been suspended for failure to file insurance. However, he admitted at a hearing that his privileges had been suspended for failing to take a chemical test, and the Lake County court ultimately issued an order granting Newlin’s petition for specialized driving privileges, staying each of his suspensions.

“In other words, the Lake County trial court lifted the two-year suspension for his refusal to submit to a chemical test despite being statutorily ineligible,” Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Cale Bradford wrote in a Tuesday opinion.

After the trial court denied its motion to correct error, the BMV appealed, arguing the trial court’s finding that Newlin was eligible for specialized driving privileges was not supported by evidence and was contrary to law. The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed, with Bradford writing that under Indiana Code 9-30-16-19(a)(2), “a person is ineligible for specialized driving privileges if the suspension is ‘based on the person’s refusal to submit to a chemical test… .’”

The trial court’s decision to deny the BMV’s motion to correct error was reversed, and the case was remanded with instructions to lift the stay of Newlin’s two-year suspension and revoke his specialized driving privileges.

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