We all believe that we could never make the mistake of drinking and driving. We know the dangers of driving drunk and we see the consequences on the news. It would never be us in the car – it’s always someone else. But sometimes there is a fine line between being OK to drive and having had one too many drinks. It may only take one more beer or finishing your glass of wine to put you over the legal BAC limit of .08 percent. Unfortunately, many people who would never purposefully drink and drive cross that line and get behind the wheel when they shouldn’t. If you’ve been charged with driving while intoxicated or impaired by drugs, you want an experienced Indianapolis DUI defense lawyer at your side. Don’t wait – call Hessler Law today to learn about your rights and how you can defend yourself against these DUI charges.
Indiana OWI/DUI Law & Punishments
You can be charged with driving under the influence, referred to as operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Indiana, if:
- You are 21 years old or older and you have a blood alcohol level higher than .08 percent,
- You are 20 years old or young and you have a blood alcohol level higher than .02 percent, or
- You are operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs that impair your ability to drive. The drugs don’t have to be illegal, your own prescription medication can alter your ability to safely drive a car.
Indiana also looks at a person’s blood alcohol level to determine the proper charge and potential punishment. A BAC between .08 and .15 percent is a Class C misdemeanor. Operating a car under the influence of a controlled substance is also a Class C misdemeanor. For a first-time offender, an OWI/DUI will likely be charged as a Class C misdemeanor so long as your BAC was lower than .15 percent. This is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
An OWI/DUI for a BAC of .15 and higher is a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a maximum $5,000 fine, and a license suspension for up to 2 years.
For underage drivers charged with an OWI because of a BAC lower than .08 percent, the charges is a Class C infraction. An infraction is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and a 1 year driver’s license suspension.
The defendant will also have to pay court costs, attorney’s fees, surcharges and other expenses in addition to the fine. An OWI/DUI with a $500 fine could cost may cost the defendant more than $1,000.
An experienced Indianapolis DUI defense attorney will push for the minimum consequences if you’re convicted, which may include probation and community service instead of jail time. Many first-time offenders are given hours of community service to complete.
Additionally, Indiana law does not require OWI/DUI offenders to attend drug or alcohol abuse assessment and education, but many courts attach these requirements upon conviction.
As a first-time offender, if you are convicted of an OWI/DUI, you can expect to receive community service, a fine, mandated alcohol and drug education, and even a license suspension. However, if a first-time OWI/DUI causes injury or death to others, or occurred while there was a minor in the car, then the defendant can expect much harsher sentencing. In these situations, it’s even more important to have a skilled Indianapolis DUI defense lawyer by your side to push for a lighter punishment.
Consequences of a Criminal Record
The effects of being convicted of an OWI/DUI don’t end with the trial or even after your sentence is complete. After you’ve completed community and service and gotten your license back, the OWI/DUI can drastically affect your life.
An OWI/DUI gives you a permanent criminal record which affects:
- Applying to college or graduate school. Many applications require you to disclose arrests and convictions, and admissions officers could hesitate to accept you because of ethical concerns.
- Obtaining a professional license. While an OWI/DUI doesn’t automatically bar you from getting a law, medical, or pharmacist licenses, the governing bodies of these professions may not believe you represent the high standard of ethical conduct necessary for these positions.
- Applying to jobs. If you have an OWI/DUI conviction, it can be particularly hard to become a delivery driver or obtain a job with a commercial driver’s license.
- Car insurance rates. Following a driving-related conviction, you will see your car insurance premiums go up.
- Immigration status. An OWI/DUI conviction can cause your visa to be rescinded or your extension to be denied. If you’ve applied for a green card or citizenship, these could also be denied.
There are many options for your defense including whether:
- The police had probable cause to pull you over
- You were given a standardized field sobriety test
- The breathalyzer was properly calibrated and accurate
- A chemical test was properly administered within 3 hours of your arrest
- You were influenced by a legally prescribed medication
Call an Indianapolis DUI Defense Lawyer from Hessler Law Today
Some people may try to say a first-time OWI/DUI isn’t a big deal, but the effects of a conviction are far-reaching and long-lasting. It’s always best to take charges seriously and hire a knowledgeable attorney like those at Hessler Law. You want a lawyer you knows the ins and outs Indiana law and will get to know your personal situation to build you a defense. Call Hessler Law today at (317) 886-8800.