Published in Criminal Law on October 14, 2021.
Anyone is capable of a slight mistake or error in judgment and, unfortunately, even just a few drinks can turn into a drunk driving arrest.
In Indiana, the term “Operating While Intoxicated” (OWI) refers to driving while impaired by the effects of alcohol, but the implications are the same as in many other states: You can lose your driving privileges and are guilty of a crime if convicted.
A first-time offense is a misdemeanor if no one was hurt or killed by your actions, and serious penalties apply.
If you were arrested for drunk driving in Indiana, you should consult with an experienced DWI/OWI attorney right away. Our Indiana DUI attorneys can help you understand which Indiana DUI Laws apply to your case.
Some general information should also help you understand how the Indiana DUI laws work.
What are the Grounds for a Drunk Driving Arrest?
The legal limit for purposes of a DUI in Indiana is .08 percent, as established by a test that measures your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Other limits may apply if you are a commercial driver or under 21 years old, at .04 percent and .02 percent, respectively. In addition, if you have an extremely high BAC of .15 percent or more, the consequences are more severe.
Keep in mind that you may also be arrested for drunk driving in Indiana if an officer has reason to believe that you were intoxicated while operating a vehicle.
Officers may determine intoxication by reviewing and analyzing the conduct, demeanor, and physical features of the driver or suspected driver to determine if the individual exhibits one or more identifiable signs of intoxication.
Therefore, you may face DUI/OWI charges even if your BAC is below the legal limit.
Proceedings in an Indiana DUI/OWI Case
An arrest for drunk driving triggers two types of proceedings under Indiana DUI law, so there are two penalties for a first offense DUI in Indiana:
Penalties Assessed by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV)
The administrative side of a DUI case affects your driving privileges.
If you are found to be in violations of drunk driving laws, sanctions may include:
- Suspension of your driver’s license for up to two years;
- Required alcohol and/or drug testing;
- Completion of a substance abuse education course; and
- Installation of an ignition interlock device that prevents your car’s engine from starting if it detects alcohol on your breath.
Criminal Sanctions for a First Offense OWI Conviction
Because drunk driving is also a crime in Indiana, there are additional penalties for a DUI/OWI conviction.
A judge may sentence you to:
- Incarceration for up to one year;
- Pay fines up to $5,000; and
- Remit court costs and fees, which start at around $300.
In addition, a first-time offense DUI in Indiana has consequences for your future. If you are arrested again for drunk driving, the penalties for a second and subsequent convictions are extremely harsh.
For non-first-time offense DUI offenses in Indiana, you could face additional serious consequences.
A lengthy driver’s license suspension, potential enhanced sentencing penalties under the Habitual Vehicle Substance Offense Statute, mandatory jail time, and any new DUI offenses could be filed as felony offenses if you have a prior conviction for DUI within the last five years.