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July 1, 2020 Changes to Indiana’s Specialized Driving Privileges Law

Effective July 1, 2020, the statutes that control specialized driving privileges petitions are getting an overhaul. Not a complete overhaul, but significant changes are being made.

The most noteworthy changes are in Indiana Code 9-30-16-3. Effective July 1, 2020, if the court determines the petitioner should be awarded specialized driving privileges, then the court may grant the privileges “for a period of time as determined by the court.” Under the old language, if specialized driving privileges were awarded, the time period was restricted to a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of 2.5 years (which could be renewed). That caused many drivers with 90-day suspensions to forego petitioning the court and to seek alternate transportation during their three month suspension.

Now, the court will have the ability to grant specialized driving privileges for as short or as long as the judge determines. For example, if the petitioner has a ten year suspension, the court may grant specialized driving privileges for the entire ten years and only require the petitioner to return for periodic review hearings instead of having to file a new petition with the court. That change will save petitioners time and money.

Additional changes to the specialized driving privileges statutes include:

  • Petitions where the Court previously ordered driving privileges suspended are now to be filed in the same case number as the suspension. The prior rule required the petition to be filed in the same courtroom, but not necessarily the same case. This change will also save petitioners money by avoiding a filing fee.
  • A person convicted of passing a school bus with an extended stop sign will not be eligible for specialized driving privileges during their suspension.
  • A person convicted for an OWI while operating a motorboat will be eligible for specialized driving privileges.

Petitions must still be signed and verified by the petitioner; state the petitioner’s age, date of birth, and address; and state the relief sought, among other requirements. In addition to the judge’s discretion for the length of specialized driving privileges, the judge retains discretion for whether specialized driving privileges should be granted in the first place.

These changes by the legislature will help more suspended drivers be allowed to drive on a limited basis. The discretion granted to the court will also allow petitioners with longer suspensions to potentially save money so long as they comply with the court’s orders should specialized driving privileges be granted.

Contact an attorney at Allen Wellman McNew Harvey, at 317-462-3455, if you are interested in learning more about the process to obtain specialized driving privileges in Indiana.

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