The best advice we can give around this topic is what you already know: don’t drink and drive. This risky behavior not only endangers you and others but can jeopardize your future in multiple ways. With Indiana’s legal limit at only .08 BAC, it’s easy to drift into a position where you could face severe consequences for knocking back that extra drink.
Being pulled over while you’re driving under the influence is a fairly structured routine. Police follow standardized procedures and steps to decide whether or not to arrest you. However, the repercussions you’ll face can be a little complicated, depending on your behavior, background, and prior offenses at the time. Here’s what you need to know about the possible blowbacks of drinking and driving.
1. Automatic License Suspension
When you’re pulled over, it might be tempting to refuse a breathalyzer test, especially if you know you are likely over the limit. But here’s the deal: if you refuse to submit to a properly requested breath test during your stop, your driver’s license gets suspended for one year. Moreover, if you have previously refused a breath test, the suspension will last two years.
Refusing the breathalyzer also revokes any possibility of receiving specialized driving privileges for this suspension. These driving privileges can make life much easier if your license ends up suspended, giving you limited driving rights to specific locations such as work, school, and special appointments as allowed by the judge.
So remember, while you do have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, it’s important to know that you will lose your license as a result. And if you end up charged with an OWI, another automatic suspension will kick in. This pre-conviction suspension occurs in every OWI case and can last up to 180 days or whenever your court case closes, whichever comes first.
2. License Points Accrual & HTV Status
Indiana uses a point system to keep unsafe drivers in check. Moving violations, even minor ones, can rack up points on your license. Point-accruing actions include things like making illegal u-turns, tailgating, failing to yield, ignoring stop signs, excessive speeding, and driving with a suspended license. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated carries exceptionally stiff point accruals. An OWI likely adds at least eight points to your license. And once you reach 20 points, you face additional license suspensions.
If multiple charges start to rack up, you can be labeled as a Habitual Traffic Violator or HTV. In this case, you’ll likely lose your license for five or ten years, making life extremely stressful. And just in case you might be tempted to stay on the roads, know that getting caught operating a vehicle with HTV status can get you slapped with a felony.
3. Insurance Rate Hikes
Car insurance is already an expense that none of us love. And being charged with an OWI means you’ll be paying even more. You’ll be required to obtain high-risk insurance, known as SR-22. Premiums are higher than most standard policies, and if you miss a payment, you could face additional penalties such as license suspension.
4. Jail Time
Exactly what happens after an OWI conviction depends heavily on the facts of your case, prosecutor, the judge, and any plea agreements made before trial. The range of penalties could be as little as probation, up to more severe consequences including the ever-dreaded jail time. And if you kill or seriously injure someone as a result of driving under the influence, or have a prior OWI, you will almost certainly be spending some time behind bars.
Getting yourself in hot water as a result of an OWI can be downright scary and genuinely overwhelming. If you find yourself in this tough spot, our knowledgeable attorneys can help keep mitigate and make sense of the consequences and help you move on with your life. Reach out to Kyle Cray, a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, 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.