As in most states, Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has a point system that determines the consequences when a driver has a record of repeated traffic violations. Following a traffic violation, your license will receive a point score, and those points will remain on your license record for two years. Even if it happened outside of Indiana—say, speeding down the interstate—the BMV can add points to your license if your violation was also against Indiana law.
Most of us try to do our best on the road, but even two points here and there can add up. It is wise to use the MyBMV system every so often to check your record for how many points you may have.
How the Points System Works
The BMV has a Points Study Committee that periodically revises the point system and violation point values. The point values increase with the danger of the violation or the damage it caused. At this time, scores for typical offenses include:
|Equipment violation on a vehicle (such as a broken tail light)
|Speeding 1–15 mph over the limit
|Failure to yield or to stop at a STOP sign
|Speeding 16–25 mph over the limit
|Failure to exercise due care for a pedestrian
|Disregarding the signal indicating the approach of a train
|Passing a school bus while it was loading or unloading
|Reckless driving with bodily injury
|Manslaughter with a vehicle
Scores can vary under different circumstances; for example, a violator takes more points for speeding in a school zone or a traffic work site. The highest score for a single offense is 10 points, and these are reserved for violations that involved injury or death.
Reducing Your Points Today
There are two possible ways to reduce or avoid points on your license:
- Completing a driver safety program (DSP) that the BMV has approved
- Using a local traffic infraction deferral program
Any driver can use a DSP, and successful completion will remove four points from your license. This credit can be applied every three years. The BMV provides a list of DSPs each with at least four hours of instruction, which can be taken at home or in person.
Some Indiana cities and counties, such as Marion County (Indianapolis) and Hamilton County, offer a traffic infraction deferral program. When you receive a ticket in one of these jurisdictions, you can qualify to have the charge deferred so that it does not appear on your record. Deferral programs tend to favor people who already have fairly clean records and do not carry a CDL. Each deferral program lists different eligibility requirements, and many of them do not admit anyone who has recently used another deferral program.
What Happens When the Points Add Up?
Once you accumulate 14 to 18 points, the BMV sends a warning. If you continue to take on points, your license will be automatically suspended when your total reaches 20. You will then have to attend an administrative court hearing. At the hearing, the judge can suspend your license for any time between a month (for 20 points) or up to a year (for 42 points), depending on how many points remain on your record.
A suspended license endangers your ability to take care of your family or get to work. If your job itself depends on your ability to drive, it can be catastrophic. However, the judge has the power to consider all the circumstances of your traffic record before sentencing. A defense attorney may be able to convince the judge to reduce your suspension time considerably or even waive further suspension.
When necessary, the attorney can also petition for specialized driving privileges for you. If you qualify, the court can carve out an exception to your suspension, permitting you to drive between specific destinations or at certain times of day so that you can go to work or take your children home as necessary.
A Serious Infraction After Low-Scoring Offenses
Although these are civil infractions, they are not harmless. If you have a number of low-scoring traffic offenses, one major charge can land you in serious trouble. Under Indiana law, a habitual traffic violator (HTV) can face a license suspension of 5 to 10 years.
An HTV is a driver who, over a 10-year period, has been convicted of:
- Two major offenses that resulted in injury or death; or
- Three major offenses; or
- Nine traffic violations and one major offense.
“Major offenses” include reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and OWI. If you find yourself facing one of these charges, it is essential to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced OWI attorney may be able to fight your charge, which could save your license.
Whatever traffic trouble you have to deal with, you don’t have to do it alone. Contact Beeman Heifner Benge P.A. today at (765) 234-8024, and let us review your case.