ACLU of Indiana Files Suit to Stop Unfair Suspension of Drivers Licenses

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
June 21, 2012 12:00 am

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ACLU of Indiana
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Indianapolis – A single working mom of six young children received a surprise missive from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Her driver’s license, it said, would be suspended for a year, because she did not carry auto insurance. Yet this mom, who now depends on a friend to drive her to work, did not even own a car and was not legally required to have insurance at the time of the BMV’s punishment.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to require the BMV to reinstate this mom’s driving privileges on the basis that the BMV’s actions are contrary to Indiana law and violate due process as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The suit includes a request for class action on behalf of the estimated thousands of Hoosiers also caught up in the BMV’s purge.

In 2010, the Indiana General Assembly established the “Previously Uninsured Motorist Registry” and charged the BMV with issuing regulations to make it work. The BMV never did so, but in 2011 it began randomly selecting individuals from the registry using non-published criteria and sending them notices of license suspension for not having insurance — even though they might not be required by law to have insurance.

“It makes no sense to punish persons when they are not violating Indiana law,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana. “The action is particularly troublesome given the profound and immediate impact, economic and otherwise, that loss of ability to drive brings. This harms not only the individual, but the public at large.”

“It is disturbing that the BMV is not following the law,” said ACLU of Indiana Interim Executive Director Frank Young. “But even worse is the incomprehensible Catch 22 situation that has resulted in unfair and unconstitutional treatment of Hoosiers.”

The case, Lourrinne M. White, et al. v. Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles was filed in the Marion Superior Court under cause number 49D02-1206-PL-02417.

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