Drunk Driving 

what are the penalties for a DUI

Drinking and driving have some serious repercussions. Driving drunk might be trivial for some, but it poses a great danger to the driver, passenger, fellow motorists, and even pedestrians. It creates a significant impact on the quality of life, finances, and overall well-being of the people involved to promote highway safety. A DUI is a severe crime in the United States. There are varying laws and respective punishments across different states; find out what the rules and their corresponding penalties are in Indiana.

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)

The term DUI is easily used and readily understandable across America. However, the official term for drunk or drugged driving in Indiana is “Operating While Intoxicated” or OWI. 

An Indiana OWI violation involves the use of any substance that affects the cognitive ability to operate a vehicle safely. This includes alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs. These substances are known to impair drivers with the following:

  • Shorter attention span
  • Slower reaction and reflexes
  • Weakened hand-eye coordination
  • Twisted judgment
  • False sense of reality

Indiana OWI Laws

The OWI laws of Indiana have varying stipulations on legal alcohol limits depending on the type of driver. The following would lead to a DUI arrest:

  • Drivers under the age of 21 – not exceeding .02 blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
  • Commercial drivers – not exceeding .04 BAC
  • Drivers in general – not exceeding .08 BAC

Drivers with a BAC of.15 or above will be charged with a more serious OWI charge.

Moreover, Indiana OWI laws also forbid any amount of a schedule 1 or II controlled substance in their system. This list of controlled substances includes opiates, hallucinogens, marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, fentanyl, Adderall, and methamphetamine.

Drugs stay in the system longer than alcohol and may induce dependency. Should a person register any amount of these controlled substances in their system, they can be charged with an OWI. The date and time when these controlled substances are consumed will not matter in the OWI case. For as long as there is proof that these substances are present in your system while operating or taking control of a vehicle, you may be indicted with an OWI.

Indiana OWI Convictions

As there could be various circumstances leading to an OWI charge in Indiana, penalties also vary and are primarily dependent on the severity of the OWI committed. The frequency with which the violation is perpetrated is also considered. 

Should you be convicted with an OWI in Indiana, the case will be on record and considered as a prior perpetually. If you face an Indiana OWI charge, you need the best defense possible to avoid a conviction. For some, drivers charged with OWIs think that their case is helpless and automatically plead guilty. Experienced Indiana DUI attorneys would argue this mentality as various factors are considered before a criminal conviction. DUIs or OWIs are not without hope. Talk to an attorney and build a solid defense. 

Indiana OWI Penalties

Most OWI in Indiana is a Class C misdemeanor. This is when the driver registers a BAC of higher than .08 but less than .15. Possible penalties for this charge are:

For a first offense – This could mean jail time of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500. The driver’s license is suspended for more or less 180 days and installing an ignition interlock device in the motor vehicle for up to 60 days.  

For the second and third offenses – Incarceration of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500. The driver’s license is revoked for more or less one year and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the motor vehicle for up to 60 days.  

Most likely, offenders will also be slapped with mandatory community service. Some may be mandated to participate in frequent and random alcohol or drug tests, engage in substance abuse programs and alcohol education, and join victim impact discussions. 

In addition, if it is a severe DUI/OWI charge or when the driver tests for a BAC that is .15 or higher, the penalties are also higher and are considered a Class A misdemeanor.

In a serious DUI/OWI charge, jail time could be up to one year, fines up to $5,000, and the mandatory installation of the IID for a year.

Ignition Interlock Device

The IID or otherwise known as an in-car breathalyzer, can detect alcohol on your breath. In cars installed with an IID, the driver will have to breathe into the IID. Should there be alcohol in the system, the vehicle will not start. If you are mandated to install an IID, you do so at your expense and costs on average at $3/day. 

Is an OWI a felony or a misdemeanor in Indiana

It depends. OWIs are primarily misdemeanors. But, if there are aggravating circumstances, the DUI court may charge a felony. 

Other factors considered whether the charge is for a misdemeanor or a felony are:

  • Injuries sustained.
  • The value of damages.
  • Age of passengers in the vehicle.
  • Frequency of offenses.

In Indiana, three levels of felonies are applicable for DUIs. 

Level 6 felony 

This is charged when the offender 

  • Has been convicted with DUI/OWI in the last seven years.
  • Is 21 years old or above with a passenger who is 18 years old or below.

This level of felony could mean jail time of 6 months to 2.5 years with an advisory sentence of 12 months and a fine of up to $10,0000.

Level 5 felony 

This is charged if the offender was able to cause injuries or death to other people due to the impaired driving of the offender. Moreover, this is also charged when the offender has been convicted with DUI/OWI in the last five years that caused injury or death of another individual.

This level of felony could mean jail time of 12 months to 6 years with an advisory sentence of 3 years and a fine of up to $10,0000.

  • Level 4 felony – This is charged if the offender could cause serious injuries or death of another person. Moreover, this is also charged when the offender has had an OWI in the last ten years. The offender committed the current OWI on a suspended license due to another OWI charge or multiple traffic offenses and when their BAC is .15 or higher.

When the offender has caused severe injuries or death to multiple people, each person affected is considered a separate offense, increasing the OWI charge’s penalties exponentially based on magnitude and severity.

Getting a DUI Lawyer

Talk to an Indiana DUI lawyer if you are arrested for DUI/OWI charges. Our attorneys at Wilson & Kinsman LLC are experienced in handling such cases. Visit our law office in Elkhart, Indiana, or our website for a consultation. There are multiple factors to consider in a DUI charge. Having representatives who have excellent track records in building a DUI defense is exactly what you need.

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Read what our former clients have to say:

A man of utmost integrity

Tom is very kind and personable. He is a great attorney to work for and work with. He is a man of the utmost integrity and is forthright in his practice. I would confidently recommend his legal services to any person I cared about.

Kayla Christofeno

Honest and professional

I was charged with an OWI in Elkhart County and Eric was my first call. He was very helpful and personable throughout the entire process. I certainly appreciated his honesty and professionalism. Eric is definitely well experienced in handling these matters. Thanks to his help and guidance, we were able to have all of our necessary steps done before going to court that helped to retain driving privileges. The judge even remarked at how well the case had been managed during the hearing. With Eric’s help, I was able to obtain specialized driving privileges very promptly. I am still able to tend to my life’s responsibilities and my work. I would highly recommend Eric to anyone else needing help with OWI/DUI charges.