Operating While Suspended – Why is my license suspended?
Operating a vehicle while suspended (OWS), sometimes called Driving While Suspended (DWS), is a commonly filed charge in Indiana Courts. OWS/DWS can be charged as an infraction. Infractions are non-criminal offenses, like a speeding ticket, which are punishable by a fine and court costs. Some infractions, like OWS/DWS also can carry a driver's license suspension. OWS/DWS can also be charged as a Misdemeanor. A Misdemeanor OWS/DWS charge is punishable with jail time, fines and court costs, as well as a driver's license suspension. There are a variety of ways to have your driver's license suspended in the State of Indiana. It is even possible to have your driver's license suspended and never receive notice of the suspension. Some of the reasons that driver's license suspensions occur are:
-No Financial Responsibility (driving without insurance)
-Failing to take BMV ordered Defensive Driving Course
-A Conviction or Judgment for Operating While Suspended
-Failing to pay fines and court costs
-Failure to pay reinstatement fee to BMV
-Suspended due to pending criminal case such as Operating While Intoxicated
So, what does a driver need to know to avoid a suspension or deal with a suspension that is currently in effect, or will take effect? First, you should ALWAYS keep your address updated with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). The BMV is required by law to notify you of any suspension so that you can contest it and/or call an attorney for advice. But, if you move and have not changed your address with the BMV, you will not receive any notices. The reason? The BMV does not allow its notices to be forwarded by the post office. Therefore, it is possible that you may get suspended by the BMV and never know about the suspension. I have represented many drivers who have been arrested and placed in jail, for OWS/DUS, because they have not received notice of suspension from the BMV. The law regarding notices by the BMV only requires that notice be sent to a driver's "last known address." So, as a precaution, look at your driver's license. If the address on the license does not match your mailing address, immediately go to the BMV and update your address.
The second thing drivers must know is that paying a ticket for OWS/DUS or pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving while suspended, will cause an ADDITIONAL ninety (90) day license suspension. This license suspension is on top of any other suspensions. This can be the beginning of a never-ending cycle of convictions and suspensions.
Any driver facing a traffic violation, whether an infraction, like speeding or OWS, or a criminal charge, such as OWS/DWS or Operating While Intoxicated (DUI/OWI) should immediately contact an attorney experienced in both criminal and traffic law prior to admitting to any criminal offense or infraction.