Published in Criminal Law by Chris Eskew on April 22, 2020.
In most cases, an OVWI/DUI in Indiana will lead to a misdemeanor charge.
However, in certain circumstances, it may become a more serious felony charge.
When Does an OVWI/DUI Charge Become a Felony in Indiana?
Situations in which an OVWI/DUI may become a felony include:
- Seriously injuring or killing someone while driving under the influence;
- Driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle; and
- Having an OWI/DUI conviction within the past five years.
Being charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor can lead to more significant penalties.
Penalty for Felony OWI/DUI Charges
Typically, whether your OVWI/DUI is a misdemeanor or a felony, you can expect the immediate suspension of your driver license if there is probable cause to do so. If your OVWI/DUI becomes a felony, the consequences increase substantially. Penalties depend on the level of felony you are facing.
Level 6 Felony
Certain circumstances may lead to a level 6 felony. These include:
- Driving drunk with at least one minor in the vehicle;
- Having a prior OVWI/DUI charge within the last five years;
- Causing someone serious injury; or
- Causing the death of a law enforcement animal.
Penalties for a level 6 felony include six months to 2.5 years of jail time and a fine of up to $10,000.
Level 5 Felony
Your OWI can be charged as a level 5 felony if:
- You cause the death of another;
- You have another OVWI conviction within the last five years that involved serious injury or death to another;
- You’ve gotten another OVWI conviction within the last five years, and your current OVWI offense involves serious injury to another.
Penalties for a level 5 felony include one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Level 4 Felony
Your OVWI/DUI may be charged as a level 4 felony if you cause the death of another and you had:
- A prior OVWI/DUI within the last ten years;
- A suspended license for a prior OVWI or for being a habitual traffic offender; or
- A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15% or higher.
Penalties for a level 4 felony include 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Each person injured or killed during the OVWI/DUI accident is treated as a separate offense, meaning you could face multiple felony charges for one incident.
If you a OVWI/DUI charge in Indiana, there are some circumstances where a skilled OVWI/DUI attorney can get your case dismissed altogether. If this is not possible, your attorney can work to get your charges reduced or your sentence mitigated.
When You Should Contact a Lawyer
It is best to contact an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. An charge should be taken seriously, and the earlier your attorney can begin working on your case, the better.
A knowledgeable criminal attorney will know how to handle your specific case properly. They may be able to get the charges reduced or dropped altogether, or perhaps get you a reduced sentence.
How Our Lawyers Can Help
At Eskew Law, we are a proud team of reliable, accessible, and trustworthy attorneys. We specialize in helping our clients deal with matters they cannot handle alone and work to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us today and let us see how we can help you fight your legal battle.