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Indianapolis DUI Lawyer

When you’re accused of getting behind the wheel of a car after consuming alcohol or drugs in Indiana, you may need an Indianapolis DUI lawyer to help guide you through the legal process. Being charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, also known as OWI, DUI, or OVWI. OWVI can be a serious misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances of your charge, including how much alcohol you had in your body and whether someone was injured or killed because you drove while impaired.

When you’re convicted of an OVWI offense in Indiana, the possible consequences you face may include:

  • A lengthy jail or prison sentence
  • As much as $10,000 in fines
  • Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
  • Loss of a commercial driver’s license
  • A permanent criminal misdemeanor or felony record that can prevent you from getting a job or renting a place to live
  • Requirement to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive
  • Significant increases to your car insurance rates
  • Suspension or denial of a professional license, such as to practice medicine, pharmacy, nursing, teaching, or law
  • Effects on your immigration status, such as denial of an immigration visa, green card, or citizenship, or possible deportation

Because of the potentially life-changing effects of an OVWI conviction, it’s recommended that you seek help from an experienced Indianapolis DUI lawyer if you or a family member has been charged. It may be that there were flaws in the police officer’s observations or collection of evidence of your impairment that can be challenged in court. A skilled DUI attorney in Indiana may be able to get your charge dismissed or your penalties reduced, depending on the circumstances of your case. Talk to an Indianapolis DUI lawyer to find out your options.

Types of Indiana DUI Charges and Penalties

You can be charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Indiana when your blood alcohol content exceeds the state’s .08 legal limit. However, you can be charged even if your BAC does not exceed the limit, but you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs that impair your ability to drive.

First DUI

In general, your penalties for a first DUI offense in Indiana will depend on how intoxicated the State alleges you were and whether your driving was so impaired that it put other people in danger.

  • .08 to .15 BAC — When you’re convicted of an OWI with blood alcohol concentration of .08 to .15, the offense is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
  • .15 or Higher BAC — An OWI with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Reckless Driving — When you drive under the influence and your driving endangers other people, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Drugged Driving — Operating a vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. You may have a defense to a charge of OWI involving controlled substances if the substance was a validly prescribed drug.
  • Under 21 — If you were under 21 and your BAC was .02 to .08, the offense is a Class C infraction with a fine of up to $500. Additionally, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to 1 year.

In addition to jail time and fines, you face suspension of your driver’s license for 90 days to 2 years on a first offense. You may be able to get probationary or specialized driving privileges, but that will depend on the circumstances of your charge. An experienced Indiana OWI defense lawyer can review your case and explain whether probationary or specialized driving privileges might be an option for you.

If you are under the legal limit and are pulled over and charged with a DUI, understand that the state of Indiana handles any underage DUI very seriously.

Second DUI Within Five Years

When you are convicted of a second or subsequent OWI within five years, you face felony penalties. The class of felony and the possible penalties vary depending on when your offense was committed.

  • Committed before July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Class D felony punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If your previous conviction is for an OWI that caused another person serious injury or death, the offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Committed after July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If your previous conviction was for an OWI that caused another person serious injury or death, the offense is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury

When you drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, under the influence of drugs, or simply while intoxicated and cause another person serious physical injury, you can be charged with a felony in Indiana. The class of felony and possible penalties vary depending on when your offense was committed. When you contact a qualified Indianapolis DUI lawyer today, these consequences can be more thoroughly explained. It’s also important to understand that if you injure more than one person, you can be charged with separate felonies for each person who was hurt.

  • Committed before July 1, 2014 — A first offense is a Class D felony punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have a previous OWI conviction within the preceding 5 years, the offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Committed after July 1, 2014 — A first offense is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have a previous OWI conviction within the preceding 5 years, the offense is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

DUI Causing Death

When you drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, under the influence of drugs, or while intoxicated, and cause the death of another person, you face serious felony penalties in Indiana. The class of felony and possible penalties vary depending on when your offense was committed and your BAC. Additionally, you may be charged with a separate felony for each person killed.

  • Committed before July 1, 2014 — A first offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have a previous OWI conviction within the preceding 5 years or you were driving under an OWI driver’s license suspension or revocation, the offense is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • BAC of .15 or higher committed before July 1, 2014 — If you were 21 or older and you caused a death while your blood alcohol concentration was .15 or higher, the offense is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Committed after July 1, 2014 — A first offense is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have a previous OWI conviction within the preceding 5 years or were driving under an OWI driver’s license suspension or revocation, the offense is a Level 4 felony punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • BAC of .15 or higher committed after July 1, 2014 — If you were 21 or older and caused a death while your blood alcohol concentration was .15 or higher, the offense is a Level 4 felony punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

DUI With a Minor in The Vehicle

When you are at least 21 and commit an OWI offense with a minor in your vehicle under age 18 while your BAC is .15 or higher, or you drive in a way that endangers other people, you may be charged with a felony. The class of felony and the possible penalties will depend on when your offense was committed and certain kinds of prior convictions.

  • Committed before July 1, 2014 — A first offense is a Class D felony punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have a prior conviction within the preceding 5 years for an OWI causing serious injury or death, the offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Committed after July 1, 2014 — A first offense is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. The offense is a Level 5 felony if you have a previous conviction within the preceding 5 years for an OWI causing serious injury or death. A Level 5 felony may be punished with 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Indiana DUI Testing and Implied Consent

Under Indiana law, when you drive a car you implicitly agree that you will submit to chemical testing when you are suspected of driving under the influence. You can face penalties if you refuse to take a certified breath or blood test that a police officer requests when there is probable cause to suspect you of drunk driving.

You still have the right to refuse, or to require a law enforcement officer to obtain a search warrant to take an involuntary sample, but there are consequences for a refusal that may include suspension of your driver’s license for 1 year on a first offense, or 2 years if you have a previous OVWI conviction on your record.

A certified test is one performed at a police station by someone certified to administer breath tests, or at a hospital by someone qualified to draw your blood, and must be done within three hours of your arrest. A certified breath test is different than a handheld portable breathalyzer test that an officer may want to administer to you when he or she pulls you over, which is not a certified chemical test. You are not required to submit to a portable breath test, and if you do the results can’t be used as evidence of your OWI — but can be used to establish that the officer had probable cause for your arrest.

An officer also may want to administer roadside field sobriety tests such as the walk-and-turn test or one leg stand test, in which the officer will try to test your motor skills and coordination to determine if you’re impaired. You are not required to submit to the field sobriety tests, and there are no consequences for your driver’s license for refusal.

If you submit to an OWI test and are over the legal limit, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that you’ll be found guilty. There are a number of ways that a qualified Indiana DUI lawyer may be able to challenge the results and help you keep your driver’s license.

Expungement of Indiana DUI Convictions

Depending on your circumstances, you may have the option to petition for expungement of an OWI conviction in Indiana once a certain number of years have passed, even if your OWI was a felony. An expungement doesn’t erase the conviction from your record, but it can make it so that the conviction isn’t seen by potential employers or landlords and doesn’t affect your ability to get a job or rent a place to live.

You can only petition for expungement in Indiana once in your life, so make sure to use your petition wisely. An experienced Indiana OWI expungement lawyer can explain your options for expungement, how an expungement might benefit you, and help you through the process.

Key Topics Related to Indiana DUI Charges

An OWI charge can seem overwhelming given the complex system of offenses and penalties in Indiana. It’s natural to have many questions about your charge, the possible outcomes of your case, and how you can defend yourself. We offer some relevant information on these pages, but also invite you to call us to discuss the individual circumstances of your case and what you can do about your Indiana OWI charge.

  • First DUI – The effects of a first DUI conviction can have a long-lasting impact. There are many options for a good defense. Learn more.
  • Second DUI – A second DUI, especially one that occurred within the past five years of the first one will have be taken very seriously. Indiana uses a 5-year lookback period, which means another DUI within five years of the conviction is considered a second offense.
  • CDL DUI — If you are a commercial truck driver and were arrested for an OWI and you have a CDL, contact the experienced DUI lawyers with Hessler Law to learn what your options are.
  • DUI Accidents — A DUI charge is a very serious crime in the state of Indiana, especially when it involves an accident. Penalties commonly include prison time as well as other consequences, such as having your license suspended or revoked.
  • DUI Causing Serious Injury — If you are convicted of an OWI that caused serious bodily injury, you will have a felony on your criminal record. There are possible defenses to this charge under Indiana law. Learn more.
  • DUI Defenses — Information about common defense strategies in Indiana DUI cases.
  • DUI Involving Drugs — DUI charges involving drugs can be difficult to fight. This is because the prosecution only needs to prove that drugs were in your system when you were operating a vehicle. The Indianapolis attorneys at Hessler Law are well-versed in helping people fight their DUI charges. Learn more.
  • Your Driver’s License After a DUI — Being handed a DUI or OWI can result in the following consequences when it comes to your driver’s license. Learn more.
  • Why Hire an Indianapolis DUI Lawyer — There are some clear advantages for having an Indianapolis DUI lawyer on your side – one who clearly understands Indiana state law.

Experienced Defense for Your DUI Charge in Indiana

OVWI charges in Indiana can hinge on very complex and technical laws and information. It’s important if you’ve been charged to have experienced and knowledgeable representation from an Indianapolis OWI defense lawyer who understands how OWI offenses are charged, how OWI tests are conducted and analyzed, the requirements placed on police and prosecutors when it comes to evidence in OWI cases, and how Indianapolis prosecutors and judges are likely to handle a case like yours.

Talk to an Experienced Indianapolis DUI Lawyer Today

At Hessler Law, we offer experienced Indianapolis criminal defense attorney with a track record of successfully representing people accused of various OWI offenses and facing driver’s license suspensions. Our Indianapolis DUI lawyers have experience on both sides of the criminal justice system — both prosecution and defense — that gives us a unique perspective on charges such as OWI. We know the local prosecutors, clerks, and judges, and how to navigate Indianapolis courtrooms to get you the best possible outcome for your charge.

This website is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.