ACLU files lawsuit against BMV purge

Lourrinne White, a single working mother of six children, was notified by the BMV stating that her driver’s license would be suspended for a year because she did not carry auto insurance, according to a press release from the ACLU.

But the woman, the ACLU says, did not own a car and was not legally required to have insurance at the time of the BMV’s punishment. The case, Lourrinne M. White, et al. v. Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, was filed in the Marion Superior Court.

The BMV’s actions are contrary to Indiana law and violate due process guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, according to the ACLU. The suit, according to the release, includes a request for class action on behalf of the estimated thousands of Hoosiers also caught up in the BMV’s purge.

“It is disturbing that the BMV is not following the law,” Frank Young, interim executive director of the ACLU of Indiana, said in the release. “But even worse is the incomprehensible Catch 22 situation that has resulted in unfair and unconstitutional treatment of Hoosiers.”

The Indiana General Assembly established the “Previously Uninsured Motorist Registry” in 2010, charging the BMV with issuing regulations. But in 2011, the BMV began randomly selecting individuals from the registry using non-published criteria and sending them notices of license suspension for not having insurance. This included individuals that might not have been required by law to carry insurance.

“It makes no sense to punish persons when they are not violating Indiana law,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, in the release. “The action is particularly troublesome given the profound and immediate impact, economic and otherwise, that loss of ability to drive brings. This harms not only the individual, but the public at large.”

— Mark Keierleber

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