ACLU of Indiana Wins Reinstatement Of Thousands of Drivers Licenses

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
November 5, 2012 12:39 pm

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BMV halts enforcement of motorist registry

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Indianapolis -Thousands of Hoosiers whose driver’s licenses are currently suspended had their licenses reinstated today when the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles agreed – in ongoing litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and private counsel Scott DeVries – to stop demanding proof of auto insurance from people who weren’t required to have it.

The “Previously Uninsured Motorist Registry” unlawfully suspended the driver’s licenses of people who had not violated any laws. The state legislature in 2010 established the registry, but the BMV did not issue rules to enforce it. Nevertheless, the BMV began that year to randomly select individuals for suspension of their driver’s licenses.

In August, Marion County Judge Theodore Sosin granted a preliminary injunction to Lourrinne M. White, a working mother of six who faced financial disaster and ruin because her driver’s license had been suspended. In 2010, the BMV sent White a notice that her driver’s license would be suspended for a year because she did not carry auto insurance. Yet, White did not own a car and was not legally required to have insurance at the time of the BMV’s punishment. The BMV’s actions violated Indiana law and due process as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said the lawsuit is on file and is “stayed,” meaning no more licenses can be suspended until the stay is lifted. “I am hopeful that the BMV will go back to the General Assembly in 2013 to change this law so that Hoosiers are not again subject to unlawful and unconstitutional suspensions of their driving privileges,” said Falk. “We recommend that before driving people check their driving status with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which they can do by phone or online if they have computer access.”

Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director, said she is thrilled that thousands of Hoosiers will have their driving privileges restored. “The ability to drive is fundamental to many basic rights and to people’s ability to work and provide for their families. The ACLU of Indiana has demonstrated, by stopping these unlawful suspensions, that legislators must take care to ensure that all laws in our state are fairly written and legally enforced.”

Lourrinne M. White, et al. v. Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles was filed in the Marion Superior Court under cause number 49D02-1206-PL-241716.

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