Per Indiana Code, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles isn’t prohibited from disclosing records or information about traffic infraction convictions, the Court of Appeals of Indiana has affirmed.
On Dec. 14, 2021, Ernest Ray Snow Jr. filed a “Verified Petition to Prohibit Disclosure of Records of Traffic Infraction [sic] Class Conviction Under I.C. 34-28-5-15(b)(2)” in Marion Superior Court.
Snow’s petition said he had received a speeding ticket that had resulted in a judgment of conviction, but he had fulfilled all obligations under the judgment, which was at least five years old. Thus, Snow said the record of his conviction should be excluded from public access.
Three days after the filing, the trial court granted Snow’s petition, concluding, “The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles; and each law enforcement agency is prohibited from disclosing or releasing the petitioner’s record or information in the Petitioner’s Traffic Infraction records to anyone without court order, other than a law enforcement officer acting in the course of the officer’s official duty.” The court further stated, “Petitioner shall be treated as if Petitioner had never been convicted of the offense.”
In February, the BMV filed a motion to intervene and a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 60(B). The BMV claimed, among other arguments, that it is not subject to I.C. 34-28-5-15(b)(2) and asked the court to vacate or amend its order as it applied to the BMV.
The trial court granted the BMV’s motions and vacated its Dec. 17 order “to the extent that it prohibits the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles from disclosing or releasing Ernest Ray Snow Jr.’s traffic infraction conviction records or information.”
On appeal, Snow argued the trial court should have denied the state’s motion for relief from judgment and allowed the original decision to remain in effect.
Look at the applicability of I.C. 34-28-5-15(b), the Court of Appeals ruled for the BMV on Wednesday.
“… (T)he BMV argues it is not subject to that statute because it is not an ‘operator of any state, regional, or local case management system.’ We agree,” Senior Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote. “The parties have not directed us to a statute that defines ‘case management system’ for purposes of Indiana Code section 34-28-5-15(b), and we have not found any in Title 34 of the Indiana Code. But other sections of the Code and Indiana’s court rules discuss case management systems in the context of courts and law enforcement officials maintaining records of civil or criminal actions.
“… The BMV is required by statute to maintain records for each licensed driver, including convictions for moving traffic violations,” Friedlander continued, citing I.C. 9-14-12-3 (2016). “But based on the usage of the term ‘case management system’ we have found in Indiana statutes and rules, maintaining individual driving records is dissimilar from keeping records of civil, criminal, or administrative cases.
“… (I)f we were to read Indiana Code section 34-28-5-15(b) as applying to the BMV to prevent disclosure of a driver’s infractions, that statute would conflict with the BMV’s statutory mandate to keep records open for public inspection,” Friedlander concluded. “And we are required to read statutes harmoniously unless the differences make the statutes so repugnant as to render them irreconcilable.”
The case is Ernest Ray Snow, Jr. v. State of Indiana, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 22A-IF-471.