Even the best of us make bad decisions from time to time. That’s just part of being human. But poor choices can have farreaching consequences. One all-too-common example is driving under the influence, which carries a heavy risk not only legally, but to everyone on the road. In fact, thousands tragically die each year as a result of impaired drivers. While our hearts go out to victims, we also recognize that offenders usually aren’t malicious or intentional with their actions. Most just made a poor choice in the moment. But getting slapped with a DUI (driving under the influence)/OWi (operating while intoxicated) shouldn’t define the rest of your life. With the right counsel, you can bounce back and more importantly, learn from your mistakes.
Indiana’s OWI laws (some states use the term DUI, but Indiana favors OWI) include driving under the influence of street drugs, prescriptions, and most commonly, alcohol. Each case differs depending on substances involved and the circumstances surrounding the incident. Let’s explore the details.
Indiana holds strict Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits for Hoosiers. If a driver is pulled over and has a BAC of at least 0.08%, then no other proof is required to be convicted of an OWI. In other words, a driver may not be physically impaired but still be arrested if their BAC is above the legal limit. If a driver is found to be impaired under the influence of alcohol but has a BAC below 0.08%, they may still be charged. How is that possible? Many drivers experience the impairment effects of alcohol before actually reaching the legal blood alcohol limit. For example, BAC levels as low as 0.05% can cause impaired reasoning, judgment, and self-control. For this reason, sufficient evidence of impairment, despite having a BAC under the legal limit, may still result in an OWI conviction. For underage drinkers, Indiana has a zero tolerance law. Any driver under 21 who has a BAC of even 0.02% can be convicted of an OWI offense. No other proof of impaired judgment or failed sobriety is necessary.
Indiana penalties for OWis depend upon a number of factors including the BAC level, number of offenses, ages of any passengers, and bodily harm done. With a BAC between 0.08% and .15%, first-time offenders commit a class C misdemeanor and could spend up to 60 days in jail with a $500 fine. If the BAC is above .15%, the offense bumps up to a class A misdemeanor, which could bring up to 1 year in jail and a $5000 fine.
OWI convictions can also be considered felonies in certain circumstances. This is serious business. Level 6 felonies carry an incarceration of 6 months to 2.5 years and up to a $10,000 fine. Some situations that may result in a Level 6 felony conviction include:
- Having an existing OWI conviction within the past five years
- Driving with a passenger under 18-years-old
- Causing serious bodily harm to someone as a result
If driving while intoxicated results in a death, the offense is considered a Level 5 felony, punishable with 1 to 6 years of jail time and a $10,000 fine. Repeat convictions bring even harsher penalties. The effects of an OWI conviction, even with lower-level charges, can have far-reaching consequences extending beyond criminal penalties, such as employment repercussions and driving limitations. Simply being charged with an OWI leads to a “pre-conviction” license suspension, resulting in limited driving privileges. Offenders can have licenses revoked for 180 days or more. Additionally, receiving an OWI conviction means the State will require high-risk insurance for three years with a higher-priced premium.
Proper handling of an OWI charge is a critical piece of moving forward and facing a bright future. As a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, Kyle Cray can help you unravel the complications of your OWI charges. Undoubtedly, you’re sorry for your actions, and you don’t have to face this alone. Reach out today to Kyle at 765-742-9066.
The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.