Driving on a suspended license is the No. 1 most common misdemeanor in the state of Indiana, and 80% of those license suspensions relate to failure to appear in court, failure to pay or failure to maintain insurance.
While many of the cases of suspended licenses are justified, there are situations in which a person's suspended license prohibits them from getting to their court date or keeps them from maintaining a job and then unable to pay their fees.
To address this issue, I am sponsoring House Bill 1199, which would allow the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to reinstate certain suspended licenses for qualified individuals whose licenses have been revoked for financial reasons such as a failure to appear or pay a fine, failure to maintain insurance or failure to pay child support. The bill would provide a pathway for those who are struggling financially and have a suspended license, if they provide proof of future financial responsibility and agree to a payment plan.
HB 1199 differentiates between crimes of poverty and crimes of contempt. It would not change the regulations to reinstate licenses for criminal suspensions, or driving recklessly or for driving under the influence.
The ability to legally drive from place to place is a critical component of everyday life for most Hoosiers. A driver's license is a key factor in stable employment, and a suspended license can be a hurdle that only worsens a person's situation. HB 1199 would provide a second chance for those who qualify, getting them back on the road so they can provide for themselves and their families.
HB 1199 unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law and will now be considered by the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy.