ACLU of Indiana Receives Injunction in BMV Case

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
August 10, 2012 4:13 pm

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Indianapolis – To prevent a working mom of six children from facing financial “disaster and ruin,” a Marion County judge today granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and private counsel Scott DeVries against the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which reinstates the mom’s driving privileges, and may pave the way for thousands of Hoosiers faced with similar circumstances to obtain redress.

“This decision is important, not only for our plaintiff, but for the thousands of people who are being unfairly deprived of their licenses by the application of a law for which no rules have even been issued,” said Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana’s legal director. Falk added, “The court’s ruling makes clear that merely possessing a driver’s license does not necessarily require someone to have auto insurance, and it is unlawful for the BMV to punish people who have not violated the law and to proceed with unpromulgated regulations.”

In June, the ACLU of Indiana filed the lawsuit, Lourrinne M. White, et al. v. Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, in Marion Superior Court. White’s Indiana driver’s license had been suspended for a year because the BMV selected her name from a list of people who were previously suspended because they had operated a motor vehicle while uninsured. The BMV then sent White a suspension notice, even though as a person who didn’t own a registered car and who was not driving, she was not legally required to have insurance. The case alleged that the BMV’s actions were contrary to Indiana law and violated due process as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Indiana General Assembly in 2010 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.

Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director, said “The ACLU of Indiana applauds this decision, and looks forward to the day the injunction is made permanent. We stand ready whenever arbitrary government action threatens the rights of individuals to work and provide for their families.”

Today’s ruling, 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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