COA clarifies ‘expiration’ in driving suspension issue of first impression

In deciding an issue of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a man’s conviction after ruling that his driver’s license suspension had already expired at the start of the day before he was pulled over a few hours later. 

On October 24, 2018, Tyson King was pulled over for speeding at 11:30 a.m. when a state police trooper received a report that King’s license was suspended for failure to pay child support. King, who claimed he had no knowledge of the suspension, was ultimately issued a summons to appear in court.

King was charged with Class A misdemeanor driving while suspended and Class C infraction speeding, and the state subsequently presented evidence during a bench trial that the BMV had notified King of the suspension by sending a notice to his last known address on July 31, 2018.

Additionally, the state presented evidence from King’s driving record that he was suspended effective “8/30/2018” with an expiration date of “10/24/2018.” Marshall Superior Court entered convictions on both counts, but in an amended order referenced the BMV manual, which defines the meaning of expiration as “the date the suspension ends.”

The trial court ultimately ruled that King was still suspended through Oct. 24, 2018, because the expiration date listed on the certified BMV record was the last day of the suspension. It therefore imposed a $20 fine for the infraction and a driver’s license suspension of 90 days, a $25 fine, and court costs of $185.50 for the Class A misdemeanor.

But the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed Thursday, clarifying in an issue of first impression “when a suspension of a driver’s license ends if there is an absence of guiding language included in the certified BMV driving record apart from the word ‘expiration’ and when there is no reference to an administrative order outlining the specific length of a suspension period.”

“Based on the BMV manual’s statement, which is not sufficiently instructive, the holding of the Vogel v. State ex rel. Laud, 107 Ind. 374, 8 N.E. 164 (1886) decision, our understanding of the general rule for computation of days in various legal contexts, and the persuasive guidance of the cited out-of-state case, we hold that King’s suspension expired at 12:00 a.m. on October 24, 2018. Based thereon, we conclude King’s driver’s license suspension was expired when Officer (Jonathan) Hart initiated the traffic stop on October 24, 2018, and thus we reverse King’s conviction of Class A misdemeanor driving while suspended,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the appellate court.

The case is Tyson Daishan Lamonte King v. State of Indiana, 20A-CR-00006. 

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