Attorneys for Appellee
Attorney General of Indiana
David L. Steiner
Deputy Attorney General
Scott A. Kreider
Deputy Attorney General
Appellants (Petitioners below),STATE OF INDIANA, et al., Appellees (Respondents below).
) Supreme Court No.
October 29, 2002
Both Desantis and Groce filed petitions for judicial review of their license suspe
on June 28, 2000, alleging that the HTV notices they received failed to
comply with the due process requirements of Ind. Code § 9-30-10-5 by not
informing them of their right to judicial review, and were void ab initio.
On July 24, 2000, the trial court denied their petitions for judicial
review. Desantis and Groce appealed to the Court of Appeals and the
Court of Appeals reversed the trial courts denial of judicial review, finding that
a lack of advisement of judicial review opportunities in the suspension notices invalidated
ab initio an HTV determination. Groce v. State ex rel. Newman, 757
N.E.2d 694, 697-99 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001). We granted transfer, 774 N.E.2d
511 (Ind. 2002) (table), and now affirm the judgment of the trial court.
The State contends that the Court of Appeals erred by invalidating the suspensions
ab initio given this Courts decision in Stewart v. State, 721 N.E.2d 876
(Ind. 1999). We agree that Stewart, and a subsequent case, State v.
Hammond, 761 N.E.2d 812 (Ind. 2002), control.
Stewart involved facts analogous to those presented here. In Stewart, we held
that a conviction for driving while suspended as an HTV was valid even
though the initial suspension notice did not refer to judicial review opportunities.
Rather, it was sufficient that a subsequent letter, nearly identical to those received
by Desantis and Groce, explained an HTVs right to seek judicial review.
Stewart, 721 N.E.2d at 879-80. The state must only show three things
for an adjudication as an HTV: (1) the act of driving; (2)
a license suspension or an HTV adjudication; and (3) that the defendant knew
or should have known of the suspension or adjudication. Id. at 879.
As a result, since a notice of his HTV adjudication was sent
to the defendant, he had constructive knowledge that his license was suspended.
In spite of this knowledge, he continued to drive, thus committing the offense
of driving while suspended as an HTV, without regard to the contents of
the initial notice. Id. at 880.
In deciding this case, the Court of Appeals looked to the Legislatures amendment
to Ind. Code § 9-30-10-16(a)(1), Pub. L. No. 120-2000, § 2, which inserted
the word validly to modify suspended, and co
ncluded that the Legislatures action was
meant to overrule Stewart.
Subsequent to the Court of Appeals opinion in this case, we decided
State v. Hammond, 761 N.E.2d 812 (Ind. 2002). We determined in Hammond
that the Legislatures addition of the word validly did not alter the Stewart
holding. Id. at 815. Rather, a suspension continues to be valid
until and unless it is successfully challenged on its merits. Id. (citing
Stewart, 721 N.E.2d at 879-80). Thus, an incomplete or untimely suspension notice
does not warrant automatic reversal of a suspension. Id. Rather, the
appropriate remedy continues to be a belated opportunity to challenge the HTV suspension
on the merits. Id. at 815-16 (emphasis added).
Stewart and Hammond control. The failure to outline the opportunity for judicial review in the initial suspension notice does not void a subsequent classification as a habitual traffic violator or any subsequent convictions for driving while suspended as an HTV.
Having previously granted transfer pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 58(A), thereby vacating the
opinion of the Court of Appeals, we now affirm the judgment of the
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, BOEHM, and RUCKER, JJ., concur.