What is a Habitual Traffic Violator?
Today we discuss Indiana’s Habitual Traffic Violator status, frequently called “HTV.” If you’re a HTV, you’re either serving a 5 year, 10 year, or lifetime license suspension. People earn these harsh suspensions a few different ways, typically from accruing a variation of “major” and “minor” offenses. Major offenses are those where there is a criminal conviction involving a vehicle, as delineated below. Minor offenses are typically moving violations. Let’s first take a look at the types of HTV suspensions.
Section 4(a) HTV
This is a 10-year suspension. To earn this suspension, a person needs to be convicted of two (2) of the following very serious offenses within a 10-year period:
- Reckless homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle.
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle.
- Failure of the operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in death or injury to any person to stop at the scene of the accident and give the required information and assistance.
- Operation of a vehicle while intoxicated resulting in death, regardless of your ACE.
Section 4(b) HTV
This is a 10-year suspension. To earn this, a person must be convicted of three (3) major offenses. these include:
- Operation of a vehicle while intoxicated.
- Before July 1, 2001, operation of a vehicle with an ACE of .10 or higher.
- After June 30, 2001, operation of a vehicle with an ACE at least .08.
- Reckless driving.
- Criminal recklessness as a felony involving the operation of a motor vehicle.
- Drag racing or engaging in a speed contest in violation of law.
- Failure to stop at scene of accident 9-26-1-1.1.
- Resisting law enforcement using a vehicle.
- Any traffic-related felony or any felony in which the operation of a motor vehicle is an element of the offense.
Section 4(c) HTV
This is a 5-year suspension. A person earns this by accruing 10 judgements within a 10-year period (on 10 different occasions), excluding equipment violations, AND one (1) conviction for driving without ever having received a license, driving while suspended (as a misdemeanor), or any offense in 4(a) or 4(b). So 10 minors + 1 major (from the above list) in a 10-year period.
What happens if a drive on an HTV suspension?
Nothing good, that’s for sure. Driving while suspended as a habitual traffic violator turns a very simple offense (driving when you’re not supposed to) into a criminal felony. That’s right, the type where you lose your right to possess a firearm and will lose the right to vote if you’re incarcerated. And, yes, people do go to prison for these types of offenses.
Your first offense for driving while HTV will be charged as a Level 6 felony, which is punishable by a $10,000 fine and has a sentencing range of 6 months to 2.5 years. This crime is fully suspendible, meaning there is no mandatory jail time. However, this will also earn you a lifetime driver’s license suspension.
What happens if I drive when I’ve been suspended for life?
You earn the privilege of being charged with driving as an HTV, a Level 5 felony. This is punishable by a $10,000 fine and a sentencing range of 1 to 6 years. This offense is also fully suspendible. However, at this point you have increased your likelihood of receiving an executed (prison or community corrections) sentence. The more HTV felonies you get, the more likely you are to go to prison. There is no brightline rule on this, so it can never be predicted when you’d go to prison or not until you’re actually charged and defending the allegations.
What’s my likelihood of success at trial?
At its core, felony driving while HTV charges can be difficult to defend. The core of the allegations requires the state to prove that you:
- Were serving an HTV suspension, and;
- Drove a motor vehicle.
That’s not very difficult to prove, is it? So it’s always easier to avoid being charged altogether.
Can I drive a moped or scooter legally if I’m HTV?
Yes! You simply need to get a Class B motorcycle endorsement on your Indiana State ID. You don’t need a license for it. Just a State ID. Then you need to register your scooter or moped and get plates on it. That’s it! Forgetting or not knowing that you needed plates and an endorsement is NOT a defense to potential felony HTV allegations. In fact, I regularly represent people charged with Level 5 Felony HTV charges for driving a scooter because they thought it was legal. It IS legal, once you get an endorsement and tags!