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Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Indiana

If an impaired driver is pulled over by police in Indiana, the driver may be charged with drunk driving, or what Indiana calls “operating while intoxicated” (OWI). It is important to understand how your state handles drunk driving charges to find a knowledgeable Indiana DUI defense attorney to help resolve your case.

Indiana Drunk Driving Laws

Indiana law refers to this crime as operating while intoxicated or an OWI. This offense penalizes drivers from operating a vehicle while intoxicated or with a BAC of .08% or more.

Indiana’s BAC level for drivers under 21 is .02%. Commercial drivers also have a lower BAC limit of .04%

Implied Consent: Yes.

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .15% or more; driving while intoxicated with a child passenger; an accident causing serious bodily injury or death; prior convictions

Typically, OWI is a Class C misdemeanor, but it can escalate to a Class A misdemeanor for instances that endanger another person or if the driver has a BAC of .15% or more. This first-time, Class C misdemeanor is punishable by:

  • 30 days to one year in jail
  • Fines up to $500 for a Class C offense or $5,000 for a Class A offense
  • License suspension from 90 days to two years
  • Ignition interlock device restrictions
  • Potentially attending alcohol treatment or a victim impact panel

However, Indiana treats OWI as a felony offense under several circumstances. Depending on the level of the felony, this offense may result in six months to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

  • Level 4 felony: Causing death or catastrophic injury with a prior OWI conviction in the past five years
  • Level 5 felony: Causing death or catastrophic injury

DUI Penalties in Indiana

Consequences for a drunk driving conviction vary depending on the situation. Each subsequent conviction has more severe consequences than prior convictions. 

All drunk driving convictions carry a driver’s license suspension. The suspension period is a minimum of 30 days for a first conviction, six months minimum for a second, and a year minimum for a third. Following the suspension, the driver is limited to driving only to and from work.

Drivers convicted of drunk driving also face fines that range from $300 up to $10,000. In some cases, an ignition interlock device (IID) has to be installed on the driver’s car. Alcohol counseling, victim impact panels, and community service are also potential penalties. 

Finding an Indiana OWI Defense Attorney

In some cases, your lawyer can negotiate pleading guilty to a lesser charge. This means that the prosecutor offers you a deal to avoid the full consequences of a drunk driving conviction by pleading guilty to a charge with reduced penalties.

Other legal defenses include calling into question the validity of the chemical testing results or disputing the reason for the traffic stop. An experienced Indiana OWI attorney can help people facing drunk driving charges learn about applicable laws, potential consequences, and possible defense strategies for their case.

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