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Jones v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 26, 2016

George D. Jones, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, et al., Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Wayne Superior Court The Honorable Darrin M. Dolehanty, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 89D03-1602-MI-6.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Ray L. Szarmach Merrillville, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of Indiana Kyle Hunter Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Altice, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] George D. Jones appeals the denial of his petition for specialized driving privileges, which he filed about six and a half years after having his Indiana driver's license suspended for life by the trial court. On appeal, Jones contends that the trial court improperly denied his petition. Jones asks that we remand the case to the trial court with instructions to stay the lifetime suspension and issue specialized driving privileges with the condition that he be required to use a photo/video ignition interlock device.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts & Procedural History

         [¶3] In 2009, Jones pled guilty to class D felony operating a motor vehicle after being suspended as a habitual traffic violator (Count I) and class D felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) with a prior OWI conviction within five years (Count II). Pursuant to the plea agreement, on July 27, 2009, the trial court sentenced Jones on Count I to three years in prison and suspended Jones's license to drive for life. On Count II, Jones was sentenced to a concurrent term of three years in prison and his license to drive was suspended for two years.

         [¶4] After his release from prison in 2010, Jones moved to Mississippi and began working for a roofing company as a laborer. He is now the operations manager of the company's Biloxi, Mississippi location. Jones is being considered for a promotion, which would require a driver's license and regular travel between Mississippi and Louisiana. He cannot obtain a Mississippi driver's license without first having his driving privileges restored in Indiana.

         [¶5] On February 17, 2016, Jones, then age thirty-six, filed a verified petition for specialized driving privileges[1] with the trial court that had previously suspended his driving privileges for life. Jones alleged, among other things, that he has had no contact with the criminal justice system since his release from prison and has had no driving violations. Additionally, he noted that he has recently obtained sole physical custody of his two young children.[2] Jones asserted that specialized driving privileges were necessary in order for him to work and properly care for his children.

         [¶6] On March 23, 2016, the trial court held a hearing on the petition. At the hearing, Jones presented evidence that he had recently obtained automobile liability insurance. He also provided the court with his driving routes for work, the grocery, and the doctor. The State presented no evidence at the hearing and made no recommendation to the trial court. After discussing the viability and enforceability of using an ignition interlock device with photo or video capability, the trial court took the matter under advisement.

         [¶7] The trial court issued an order denying the petition on March 29, 2016. The order provided in pertinent part:

This matter was before the Court for hearing on a Petition for Specialized Driving Privileges. Having considered the evidence presented, and having taken the matter under advisement, the Court ...

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