Published in Criminal Law by Chris Eskew on November 1, 2020.
Upon conviction for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OVWI) in Indiana, you face substantial fines and jail time.
You also face the suspension of your driver’s license and other penalties, along with a permanent criminal record that can prevent you from getting a job or holding a professional license.
If you are facing DUI or OVWI charges, understanding the Indiana DUI laws and the potential penalties of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is important.
Before you make a decision that could potentially affect your life for decades to come, talk to one of our experienced Indiana DUI attorneys.
What Are the Indiana Legal Limits for Blood Alcohol Concentration?
For drivers age 21 and above, the law considers a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more as above the legal limit. If your BAC was 0.15 or above, you face an increased level of charges and penalties.
If your arrest involved any aggravating circumstances, such as endangerment to yourself or others, injury, or if you have prior DUI convictions, you could face even harsher consequences. Typically, Indiana DUI charges range from a Class C to Class A misdemeanor penalty
For drivers below the age of 21, a BAC of 0.02 or above can result in Class C misdemeanor DUI charges.
Typically, law enforcement officers test suspected drunk drivers using blood, breath, or urine tests. Breathalyzer tests are arguably the most common way of testing BAC.
What Are the Indiana OVWI Penalties?
The OVWI penalties in Indiana are as follows, based on the level of charges you face and any prior convictions you might have.
Here are the different penalties for an OVWI in Indiana:
- BAC of 0.08 to 0.149, you face up to 60 days in jail, up to $500 fine, and a one-year license suspension,
- BAC of 0.15 or above, you face up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
The same penalty is possible if you are operating a motor vehicle, and you endanger yourself or others.
People with prior OVWI convictions face higher penalties, especially if you have a prior OVWI or similar conviction from another state in the last seven years. In that case, you could face a Level 6 felony DUI charges with up to 30 months behind bars and a $10,000 fine.
Aggravating circumstances may also increase the severity of the charges you face. For example, you could face a Level 6 or Level 5 felony charge for having a minor in the car while driving drunk. If you cause an accident, injuries, or fatality while driving drunk, you could face a host of very serious charges and penalties.
Indiana OVWI and DUI Driver License Suspension
If you refuse to take a certified breathalyzer test when asked by a law enforcement officer when they have probable cause you face a minimum of a one-year license suspension plus any additional suspension if you are convicted.
If you have a prior conviction and you refuse, the refusal suspension will be two years even if you’re never convicted of the OVWI.
A first offense OWI typically carries a six-month license suspension or more if your BAC was 0.15 or above. Subsequent infractions carry a one-year suspension.
You may be eligible for a limited use driving permit, which will allow you to drive to and from work and school. This permit will also allow you to take care of some types of personal errands such as buying groceries, going to the bank, medical appointments, going to court, etc.
If you have a refusal suspension you are not eligible for specialized driving privileges until that suspension is over.
Possible OVWI and DUI Defenses & Plea Bargain Options
If you have an experienced OVWI or DUI attorney handling your case, you could have a variety of options for fighting your Indiana DUI charges.
For example, the police must have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop. If they don’t have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime, pulling you over may not have been legal.
Likewise, officers must have probable cause of your impairment before they can arrest you or request you to take a breath test. Another potential defense strategy involves the accuracy of chemical BAC testing. If established testing procedures are not used, it can provide grounds for challenging the accuracy of the test results.
Criminal defense attorneys typically push to get DUI charges dismissed on these or other grounds if the facts are there to support that. These and other defense strategies can also be used in court. In some cases, your attorney may recommend accepting the prosecutor’s offer of lower charges, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Call an Indianapolis DUI Lawyer Today for Help
If you got a DUI in or near Indianapolis, consider your options very carefully before making any decisions. The prosecutor might encourage you to take a plea deal to make the problem go away quickly.
We are one of the premier criminal defense firms in central Indiana. We understand how important this situation is and we are prepared to fight for your future and your freedom.