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What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In Indiana

The Indiana Traffic Laws govern the conduct of motorists and pedestrians that utilize the state’s road facilities. Individuals suspected of violating these laws commit traffic violations or infractions. In Indiana, traffic violations are broadly categorized into traffic felony violations, traffic misdemeanors, and traffic infractions. These traffic violations carry different penalties of monetary fines and possible jail time, depending on their severity. They are also resolved based on the specific law the traffic offender violated. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles maintains and disseminates records of driving history and individual traffic violations and infractions in the form of Driving Records. However, records of judicial proceedings are maintained with the state courts as Indiana traffic court records. 

What Are Felony Traffic Violations In Indiana?

Felony traffic violations in Indiana are the most severe types of traffic violations in the state. Hence, they are guided by more stringent laws, harsh penalties, and even loss of certain privileges. Felony traffic violations mostly result in personal injury to an individual or damage of property. Despite the severe nature of these offenses, their penalties vary based on classification. They are divided into different levels by the state criminal code based on the length of the sentence, the number of convictions, and the offense’s severity/nature. 

Legal processes for felonies are conducted in criminal court, with the possibility of harsh sentences of thousands of dollars in fines and multiple years in prison. According to the state criminal law, felonies are punishable with prison sentences from 6 months to 40 years in prison and monetary penalties of up to $10,000. The penalties assigned depend on the level or class of the felony committed, and the individual’s criminal history. 

For instance, a DUI traffic violation becomes a felony if it involves the injury or death of another individual or if the individual has prior DUI convictions within a period of 5-10 years. Such individuals may be designated as Habitual Traffic Offenders or Violators.

Most felony traffic offenses result in loss of driving privileges. The government directs the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to suspend the individual’s license for five years, ten years, or life depending on its severity. 

Some examples of Felony Traffic Violations In Indiana include:

  • Reckless homicide from operating a vehicle,
  • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter caused by operating a vehicle
  • Indiana OWI resulting in death
  • Leaving the scene of an accident that eventually results in death or injury of another individual

Multiple convictions of the following crimes are regarded as felonies in Indiana;

  • Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence
  • Reckless driving
  • Drag racing
  • Resisting law enforcement using a motor vehicle
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In Indiana?      

Traffic Misdemeanors occur when there is property damage, an individual suffers a personal injury, or when there is a genuine threat of personal injury/property damage. They are considered crimes and handled in court. Traffic misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies but more severe than traffic infractions.  In fact, in Indiana, multiple misdemeanor convictions may lead to felony convictions, and numerous infractions may lead to misdemeanors, especially if it results in an accident. Misdemeanors have the same penalties as lesser traffic offenses because they involve paying Indiana traffic fines, but some may involve jail time. When incarceration is involved, the offender is usually penalized with short incarceration time of not more than one year in a city or local jail. 

Typically, Misdemeanors in Indiana are designated into Classes  A, B, and  C according to State Criminal Law. Class A Misdemeanors such as aggressive driving is the most severe type of misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Class B Misdemeanors' convictions are penalized with about 180 days in jail and monetary fines of up to $1,000. Finally, Class C Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. 

Driving under the influence (DUI), which is referred to as “operating while intoxicated”(OWI) in Indiana,   is a Class C misdemeanor if it is the person’s first DUI offense. Driving without a valid license is also a class C misdemeanor, but a subsequent offense becomes a class A misdemeanor. 

Typically, most traffic misdemeanors in Indiana are associated with drunk driving. The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute maintains strict laws and protocols for addressing such offenses.

Some examples of traffic misdemeanors in Indiana include:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI) 
  • Driving with a suspended License
  • Driving without a valid license
  • Driving the intent to obstruct vehicular or pedestrian traffic and obstructing traffic
  •  Reckless Driving 
  • Aggressive driving
  • Swerving in and out of traffic
  • Passing a stopped school bus

What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In Indiana?

Traffic infractions are the least serious type of traffic offenses in Indiana. They are considered civil offenses and not crimes. Although infractions are not criminal in nature, they also have their consequences. An individual cited with an infraction in the state is usually expected to pay a civil fine with no worry of incarceration. Many of Indiana traffic infractions are for Speeding. The state’s traffic fines for speeding tickets are significantly higher than the national average, but usually cost no more than $500. 

Some Examples Of Traffic Infractions In Indiana include:

  • Unsafe stopping or slowing
  • The unnecessary sounding of the horn
  • Failure to yield
  • Failure to obey traffic signals
  • Driving at unsafe speeds
  • Flashing headlights repeatedly
  • Driving without a license
  • Refusal to produce a license
  • Following another car too closely
  • Speeding in a school or work zone

How Does A Traffic Ticket Work In Indiana?

A traffic ticket issued by a law enforcement official in Indiana is an official notice to a motorist indicating that the individual has violated state traffic regulations. Depending on the type of issued ticket, the individual may be required to pay ticket fines or show up in court. The type of ticket received depends on the type of violation committed. Typically, every violation in the state has a point value assigned to it depending on its severity. If a traffic offender acquires up to 18 of these points in 2 years, the individual may be penalized with probation or driver’s license suspension. Therefore, the way an individual responds to a traffic ticket determines if there will be points added to the driving record or not. An individual with a traffic ticket must respond to the ticket within 60 days from the day of violation. The individual may choose to pay the fine, request a mitigation hearing, or seek a contested hearing. Paying the fine implies that the individual is pleading guilty to the traffic violation and thereby getting points added to the driver’s records based on the traffic violation committed. If the individual chooses to request a mitigation hearing, the traffic fine may be reduced, or a fair payment plan agreed. However, it is still an admission of guilt and, as such, results in the addition of traffic violation points to the individual's record. They may choose to dismiss the ticket by pleading the “not guilty” at a contested hearing. The individual may deny the ticket by signing “Deny/Denial” on the ticket and mailing it to the relevant court in the jurisdiction where the ticket was issued. A court date will eventually be chosen for the hearing when the court receives the signed ticket.

This method of responding to the ticket allows the offender to choose to hire an attorney and present a worthy case in court with testimonies and evidence. If the individual is found “not guilty” of the traffic violation, the case will be dismissed with no traffic violation points added to the individual’s driving history.

Are Driving Records Public In Indiana?

According to Indiana's Access to Public Records Act (APRA), Indiana driving records are public information that can be accessed by members of the public. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is mandated by law to provide driving records without personally identifiable information to the public on request. Due to the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), the state BMV restricts and regulates access to driving records containing personal information to protect the record holder’s privacy. Interested individuals are required to open an account with the government to make driving records requests. 

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in. 

Third-party sites are independent from government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Find Driving Records In Indiana?

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles maintains and distributes driving records in the state. The driving record contains an individual’s history of vehicle registration, citations, traffic violations, traffic accidents, court-ordered suspensions, license status, and even point violations. 

Generally, the BMV issues two types of driving records namely:

  • The Viewable Driving Record(VDRs): contains necessary driving history information and non-personal details. This record is viewable on the department’s website at no charge.
  • The Official Driving Records(ODRs) which is a certified copy of an individual's driving record with a certification letter from the state BMV. It is used for official purposes and costs $4. 

When requesting in person or via mail, the individual is required to complete a Request for Driver Records Form and deliver or mail it along with the appropriate fees to the closest Indiana BMV office.

Mailing address:

Indiana Government Center North

Room 402

100 North Senate Avenue

Indianapolis, IN 46204

Online Request:

An inquirer will need an BMV account to request an ODR online. The individual may visit the website to create the account with the following information;

  • The first five digits of the individual’s zip code
  • Indiana Driver’s license number
  • The last four digits of the social security number

Also, due to the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), which protects the privacy of the drivers in the state, all individuals seeking access to driving records with personal information require an account to access BMV records in Indiana. 

All users with an account are given ‘Basic Access’ to the documents. This type of access does not provide personal information in BMV records unless the user pays a yearly subscription fee of $95.

Inquirers will be asked to state the reason for the search. If the stated reason is cleared and specified under the DPPA, the individual or entity can run searches by using the driver’s name, Driver’s License Number(DLN), and Social Security Number(SSN). Each record online costs $7.50.

Can Traffic Violations And Infractions Be Expunged Or Sealed In Indiana?

Yes, records of traffic violations in an individual’s driving records or criminal history in Indiana can be expunged or sealed from public view. They may only be accessed by court order. According to Indiana’s Expungement Statutes, individuals may be able to expunge records of traffic violations provided that certain conditions are met. For example, individuals seeking expungement for a dismissed or overturned conviction are qualified. In this case, the individual may file for expungement one year after the arrest’s initial date.  

Other traffic misdemeanors and felonies such as DUIs and OWIs carry specific waiting periods. These waiting periods must be concluded before offenders can file for expungement. Most misdemeanors carry a waiting period of 5 years, and non-violent felonies have a waiting period of  8 years. However, for most serious felonies, the offender will require the prosecuting attorney’s approval and also wait for ten years before filing for expungement. During these years of waiting, the offender seeking expungement must ensure to keep a clean criminal record with no other convictions or pending charges. This is because multiple criminal convictions may affect the court’s decision to grant the order. 

In some cases, the courts may frown upon an expungement order if the individual has a suspended or revoked license. Therefore it is essential to ensure that the petitioner’s driver’s license is in good standing. Finally, all obligations such as sentences, all forms of supervised release,  probation, court costs and fines, etc. must be satisfied before filing for expungement.

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