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  • DUI & DWI in Indiana

    How serious a problem is driving while intoxicated? Consider the following statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation:

    • In 2012, 59% of the drivers in fatal accidents who'd been drinking had BACs of .15% or higher.
    • Of those drivers in fatal crashes in 2012, drivers with a BAC of .08% or higher were 7 times more likely to have had a prior DUI conviction.
    • In 2012, drivers with a BAC of .08% or higher constituted 31% of the drivers involved involved in fatal accidents that year.

    The Effects of Alcohol

    People process alcohol differently.

    What may cause one person to feel tipsy, may have little effect on someone else. What may cause one person to register a higher than allowed blood alcohol content (BAC), may leave another within the legal limit.

    In general, men can drink more than women without being legally drunk. In general, heavier people can drink more than those who are lighter.

    But, what most people don't realize is that by the time you actually feel drunk, you are likely much over the legal BAC limit. What most people don't realize is that your driving skills begin to be impaired after your first drink.

    Indeed, with a BAC of .04%―half the legal limit in Indiana―your chances of being involved in an accident elevate. What skills are affected? Your simple reaction time, and your emergency response.

    By the time your BAC reaches .06%―still under the legal limit―you are much more likely to be involved in a fatal crash as a non-drinking driver. Skills affected? Your coordination, comprehension, eye movement, lane tracking, and attention.

    By the time you reach the legal limit of .08%, you're far more likely to be in a fatal crash. All of the above skills are affected, and now also your speed control, braking, gear changing and overall judgment.

    Operating While Intoxicated

    Indiana's substance abuse laws fall under the Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) umbrella. You may be found guilty of simply being under the influence of a substance while driving (meaning that it affected your ability to drive), or being over the blood alcohol content legal limit.

    Legal Limits

    You are considered to be over the limit in Indiana if you have BAC of at least .08%. If you have a commercial driver's license, however, the limit is .04%. If you're younger than 21 years old, the limit is only .02%.

    Additionally, if your BAC is over .15%, you will face more severe punishment.

    Administrative Suspension

    If you are suspected of OWI, the police officer will ask you take a blood, breath or urine test to determine the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. The officer chooses what test you take; you don't have a say. Also, you don't have the right to talk to a lawyer before taking the test.

    If the test shows that your BAC exceeds the legal limit, you'll face an administrative license suspension of 30 days. Moreover, you will face additional suspension time and other penalties if you are convicted in court.

    You may refuse to take the test, but if you do so, the police officer will take your license on the spot. Also, your license will be suspended for up to 1 year.

    Court Judgment

    If you are found guilty of OWI in court, you may lose your driving privileges 2 years for a 1st offense, depending on the court's ruling. If you've had previous OWI infractions, your suspension time will be on the longer side. Also, you may face additional penalties (including jail time) and fines.

    If you're convicted for a 1st offense, the court may allow you to have a probationary license after 30 days.

    As a stipulation of these lesser penalties, the court may order you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This device measures your BAC, and will not allow your engine to start if you're over the legal limit.

    You may still have to serve jail time and pay additional fines.

    Habitual Offenders

    The state has a habitual offender law that affects drivers guilty of multiple OWI offenses.

    On your 3rd offense, your license will be suspended for up 10 years.

    If you kill another person while driving with a BAC of 0.08% or more, you may be jailed up to 8 years.

    If you have 2 convictions in 10 years for operating a vehicle while impaired and those accidents resulted in death, you'll lose your license for life.

    Anytime you're involved in an OWI offense, you might consider hiring a lawyer to defend you.

    Insurance Consequences

    If you have a OWI offense, you will be required to have high-risk insurance for 3 years after your conviction. You'll need to have your insurance agent file an SR-22 form with the BMV. If you fail to do so, or if you cancel the insurance, your license will be suspended again.

    Of course, high-risk insurance carries much greater premiums than that of the average insurance policy. Additionally, your current insurance company may cancel your policy after your OWI offense, thus forcing you to find another carrier.

    Reinstatement

    Once you have served your suspension and other penalties, you may apply for reinstatement at any of the reinstatement branches located throughout Indiana.

    You'll have to pay a hefty reinstatement fee. Check with your branch about your fee.

    Additional Information

    For more information on OWI laws and penalties, consult the Indiana Vehicle Code.

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