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DUI Causing Serious Injury

Many people make the mistake of driving after having a little too much to drink. It’s rarely intentional – people just think they are OK to drive. They think their abilities haven’t been impaired and that there is no harm is getting behind the wheel and heading home. Sometimes this mistake results in being pulled over and charged with a DUI. This error can also cause more significant consequences – like getting into an accident and hurting someone. Indiana takes OWI and DUIs seriously. If an impaired driver hurts someone in a DUI accident, they will be charged with a felony. If you are facing charges for an OWI that caused serious bodily injury, don’t wait to call an experienced Indianapolis DUI attorney.

Contact the Indianapolis DUI defense lawyers of Hessler Law right away at (317) 886-8800.

DUI in Indiana Causing Serious Bodily Injury

Statute IC 9-30-5-4 states a person is guilty of a Level 6 felony if he or she causes serious bodily injury to another individual while driving a vehicle:

  • With a blood alcohol content at or above 0.08 percent,
  • Impaired by a controlled substance, or
  • Intoxicated.

Many people ask, what is a serious bodily injury? Indiana law defines serious bodily injury as any harm that causes:

  • Unconsciousness,
  • Extreme pain,
  • A protracted loss or impairment of the function of a body part or organ,
  • A substantial risk of death,
  • A serious permanent disfigurement, or
  • The loss of a fetus.

Examples could include a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and organ damage. Also, if a person is hospitalized for a significant period of time or admitted to an intensive care unit, this may be evidence of a substantial risk of death.

Under Indiana law, a Level 6 felony is punishable by at least 6 months in prison but up to 2 1/2 years, with an advisory sentence of 1 year in prison. The offender can also be fined up to $10,000 and lose his or her driver’s license for up to 1 year.

Potentially Heightened Charges

If your current charge includes causing serious bodily injury and you have a previous DUI-related conviction within the past 5 years, then the prosecutor may charge you with a Level 5 felony. You can be imprisoned from 1 to 6 years for this felony, though the advisory sentence is 3 years. You can also be fined up to $10,000 and lose your license for at least 1 year.

Consecutive Sentences Are Possible

It is important to realize that if more than one person was injured in an DUI accident, you can be charged with a separate offense for each individual who was caused a serious bodily injury. If convicted for each person, you face multiple sentences.

For example, if you hurt two passengers in your car while intoxicated, you face a felony charge for each passenger. You can be required to fulfill a prison sentence for each conviction, known as consecutive sentences. However, under the law, you can only be imprisoned up to 4 years, if the highest charge is a Level 6 felony. If the highest charge is a Level 5 felony, you face up to 7 years for consecutive sentences.

Collateral Consequences

If you are convicted of an OWI that caused serious bodily injury, you will have a felony on your criminal record. This record follows you, even after you fulfill your punishment and will greatly affect your life.

A criminal record can affect:

  • Getting a good job
  • Being approved for rental housing
  • Auto insurance rates
  • Receiving federal student aid
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Obtaining or keeping a professional license, such as for practicing law, medicine, or teaching
  • Immigration status, such as losing your visa or green card or being denied citizenship

Potential Defenses

There are possible defenses to this charge under Indiana law. For example, you may have appeared impaired or intoxicated from taking a legally prescribed medication.

Your Indianapolis DUI lawyer can work to show that the chemical test was inaccurate and that you were not over the legal limit or you did not have any controlled substance in your system. There are many cases in which a breath test given at the time of the arrest was not accurate.

Additionally, the prosecutor must prove that the other person suffered a serious bodily injury in order for you to be convicted of this offense. Your Indianapolis OWI lawyer may work to show that the other person’s injury is not as serious as the prosecutor wants the judge or jury to believe.

Call an Indianapolis DUI Attorney for Help

If a prosecutor is charging you with the crime of seriously hurting someone while driving intoxicated, you face a harsh punishment. You could end up in jail for a few years, disrupting your education, career, and family. There are many defenses to this offense, and you should work with the skilled Indianapolis DUI attorneys at Hessler Law to build the strongest defense under the law. We have years of experience defending tough OWI cases. We have relationships with the prosecutors, judges, and clerks in Indianapolis courtrooms. We know the nuances of the law and will work to have your charges reduced, prove your innocence, or minimize the consequences of conviction.

Call our Indianapolis criminal defense lawyers today at (317) 886-8800 for a free phone consultation to discuss your case.