The penalties for operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be severe in Indiana, but the long-term consequences of a DUI in the Hoosier State are not as harsh as they used to be. This is because lawmakers passed a bill called the Second Chance Law in 2011. This law allows individuals to restrict access to parts of their criminal records. Police departments and prosecutors are still able to access criminal records for previous drunk driving convictions, but other parties, such as employers and landlords, are not.
The Second Chance Law
Individuals arrested for drunk driving in Indiana usually face misdemeanor charges. Under the provisions of the Second Chance Law, a person convicted of committing a misdemeanor can petition to restrict access to his or her records after five years have passed from the date of his or her conviction. The court will restrict access to a person’s criminal record as long as he or she has not committed any further crimes, and no charges are pending against him or her; his or her driver’s license is not currently suspended, and no suspension is pending; and he or she paid the fine, completed his or her sentence, and abided by the terms of his or her supervised release.
Filing a Second Chance Law petition
Offenders who wish to restrict access to their criminal records must complete a petition and deliver it to the Marion County Clerk’s Office in Indianapolis. The petition is then assigned a civil case number with an XP designation. When a hearing is scheduled, the petitioner is notified by court staff. He or she is also notified when a judge grants or denies the petition.
Individuals who plan to submit a Second Chance Law petition may be wise to consult with an experienced criminal law attorney as making a mistake can have serious ramifications. If the judge denies an offender’s petition, he or she cannot refile the petition or submit a new one for the same crime. Lawyers could help their clients to avoid this pitfall by explaining the provisions of the Second Chance Law, ensuring that petitions are drafted properly and making sure that conditions set out in the law have been met.