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Friday, July 20, 2012

Ind. Decisions - "Woman sues to stop Indiana BMV from suspending her license, saying agency waited too long"

This AP story reported by Charles Wilson has been around for several days, but in a shortened version. Here is the complete story, as it appears in the July 17th Columbus Republic. Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS — A Bloomington woman is suing to stop the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles from suspending her license, saying the agency waited too long to mete out punishment for infractions committed years ago and that revoking her driving privileges now would endanger her family's welfare.

Leslee Orndorff was deemed a habitual traffic offender in 2004 following her third conviction for driving without a license, making her subject to a 10-year license suspension if and when she obtained one, according to a lawsuit filed by Orndorff and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Orndorff says the BMV never notified her of her habitual offender status. She got her license in 2008 and contends she was unaware of the suspension that should have applied at the time.

After discovering a computer glitch that allowed Orndorff and some 400 other habitual offenders to be overlooked, the BMV suspended her license in May. A Monroe County judge last month declined to stop the agency from enforcing the suspension. The ACLU is appealing that decision and attorney Ken Falk said this week that the suspension is temporarily on hold.

Orndorff works as a caregiver for a home health care agency, and she says she needs to drive to visit clients at their homes and to take them to doctor visits and the supermarket.

"There is no doubt that the BMV was entitled to suspend Ms. Orndorff's license in 2004," the ACLU said in a court brief. "The question is whether the BMV's extreme and prejudicial delay in waiting to do so until 2012 prevents the BMV from doing so now."

"The BMV's action at this point, given that Ms. Orndorff has been licensed and driving legally for years, is simply irrational and violates due process," the ACLU added. There is no evidence that Orndorff is an unsafe driver, the organization said. * * *

Monroe Circuit Judge E. Michael Hoff last month denied the ACLU's request to bar the BMV from suspending Orndorff, but Falk said Hoff did give the ACLU time to appeal.

Hoff said in a court order that throwing Orndorff's family into hardship wasn't a serious enough threat to the public interest to justify changing the rules for her benefit. He also wrote that the BMV's failure to act in 2004 was understandable because at that time, Orndorff didn't have a driver's license to suspend.

The Indiana Court of Appeals has received the appeal, but hasn't set a date yet to hear arguments in the case, according to the court's online docket.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 20, 2012 10:28 AM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions