As I’ve said once before, it makes me very sad when someone is dropped off at one of my Indiana bankruptcy law offices in a state of depression over their car. The bus doesn’t go anywhere near their job, I learn. They have no way of taking family members to doctor appointments or to the pharmacy. Their car’s been repossessed.

What’s even worse, though, is when a debtor’s driver’s license has been yanked because of unpaid tickets or fines. Those tickets could have been for parking violations, but could also relate to equipment violations for broken headlights, noisy muffler, or bald tires. By way of quick review, Indiana’s Financial Responsibility Law says that if you commit a traffic violation or are involved in an accident, you need to prove you were covered by insurance the day that happened, or your driving privileges may be suspended for 90 days. The intent of the law is for all drivers to maintain liability insurance on any vehicle they drive, regardless of who owns the vehicle.

If your car has been repossessed, and you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy before your automobile has been sold, you have a chance of getting the car back from the creditor. The situation is similar with a suspended driver’s license: if you file a Chapter 13 (assuming there are no criminal charges against you), you will have a chance to keep your license.
Yes, as a consumer bankruptcy specialist, I help people stay in their cars. But you need to do your part to keep wheeling along as well. Here are two important numbers to remember:

If you’re involved in an accident resulting in damage of at least $1,000, you must submit proof of financial responsibility to the state police. The same holds true if a police officer stops you for a moving traffic offense (running red lights, improper lane changes, failing to stop at a stop sign, speeding, etc.).

When you receive a Certificate of Compliance from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (which will be mailed to you after the accident), you have forty days to respond with proof of insurance. If you can’t do that, either you need to pay the actual damages to the person(s) involved in the accident, work out an installment payment plan, or file bankruptcy and send proof of that to the motor vehicle licensing department. If you continue to drive without doing those things, you risk arrest and even imprisonment for driving with a suspended license.

Oh, and one other important number: 1
The one important message I keep coming back to time and again in my Indiana bankruptcy blogs is that financial problems, especially those having to do with your car and your license to drive it, need to be addressed swiftly.

Make it #1 priority to seek professional help before it’s too late. Suspended driver’s licenses and auto repossessions don’t just slow you down, they stop you dead in your tracks!