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 0.15% or higher.
  • Of those drivers in fatal crashes in 2012, drivers with a BAC of 0.08% or higher were 7 times more likely to have had a prior DUI conviction.
  • In 2012, drivers with a BAC of 0.08% 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 0.04%―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 0.06%―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 0.08%, 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.

You are considered to be over the limit in Indiana if you have BAC of at least 0.08%. If you have a commercial driver's license, however, the limit is 0.04%. If you're younger than 21 years old, the limit is only 0.02%.

Additionally, if your BAC is over 0.15%, 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. If the test shows that your blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the legal limit, you'll face an administrative license suspension. You may refuse to take the test, but if you do so, the police officer will take your license on the spot. Civil law allows the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to suspend the license of anyone who fails or refuses to take a chemical test. The penalties are as follows:

  • Failing a chemical test: 180 days.
  • Refusing a chemical test: 2 years.

You will be given a hearing where it will be determined if there is enough cause for the BMV to suspend your license. It is also important that you, and your attorney if you have one, be prepared for your hearing. The BMV supplies helpful information about hearings as well as all forms you may need.

Remember this suspension is considered Administrative only; you may face additional suspension time and other penalties if you are convicted in court.

What are the DUI Criminal Penalties in Indiana?

If you are found guilty of OWI in court, you may face the following penalties for a 1st offense:

  • Fees and court costs: Minimum $300.
  • Fines: Maximum $5,000.
  • Imprisonment: Maximum 1 year.
  • License suspension: 2 years.
  • Submit to alcohol and/or drug testing.
  • Required to attend:
    • a substance abuse education course
    • a victim impact panel

You may be granted a probationary license after you have served at least 30 days of your suspension.

As a stipulation of these penalties, you may be 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 or a single OWI offense with a high BAC (over 0.15%).

With each offense the suspension period increases. 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 will be charged with a Class C felony, you may be jailed up to 8 years and pay up to $10,000 in fines.

If you have 2 major offenses of driving with a BAC of 0.08% or over that result in injury or death (within 10 years ) 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.

How to Reinstate an IN Driver's License

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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