Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal in every state. However, states have different terms to refer to this illegal behavior. DUI is the common acronym used to refer to driving a vehicle when your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is above the legal limit of .08%, or when your driving abilities are impaired because of the amount of alcohol in your system.

However, some states use DWI to refer to the crime of operating a vehicle with a BAC above the legal limit or being impaired because of alcohol in your system. DWI is the acronym for driving while impaired. In some states, DWI refers to drugged driving, while DUI is used to refer to drunk driving. 

Neither term applies in Indiana; instead, the state refers to both drunk and drugged driving as OWI. In any case, there is no difference between the terms DUI, DWI, and OWI in Indiana. However, many people use the term DUI when referring to the criminal offense of drunk driving or drugged driving in Indianapolis, IN. 

Indiana’s Drunk Driving Laws 

It is unlawful under Indiana law for anyone to operate a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). The law prohibits a person from operating a vehicle when:

  • Their BAC level is .08% or higher
  • They have any amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance in their system
  • They are intoxicated because they have alcohol and/or drugs in their system

Additionally, it is illegal in Indiana for anyone under the age of 21 years old to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or higher. Commercial truck drivers also have a lower legal limit for drunk driving. The legal BAC in Indiana when driving a commercial vehicle is .04%. 

What Are the Penalties for OWI in Indianapolis, IN?

The penalties for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in Indiana can be severe. These consequences may include:

  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Fines and assessments
  • Jail or prison sentences
  • Community service
  • Required alcohol and/or drug assessment and treatment
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
  • DUI Probation 

OWI and DUI penalties increase based on your criminal record. Repeat offenders and felony DUI face higher fines and longer jail times. They also lose their driving privileges for longer periods.

A first-offense OWI conviction can result in up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. However, if your BAC is .15% or higher, the jail sentence increases to one year, and the maximum fine increases to $5,000. Driver’s license suspension is one year for a first-time DUI conviction.

Subsequent OWI convictions come with increased penalties. You can expect fines up to $10,000, jail time of 2.5 years or more, and a driver’s license suspension of two years. The penalties continue to increase if you are a habitual offender. 

The state’s implied consent law requires you to submit to a breathalyzer test if you are suspected of drunk driving in order to obtain an Indiana driver’s license. Therefore, if you are pulled over for suspected OWI, the police officer will likely question you and look for signs of intoxication. The officer may also ask you to complete field sobriety tests to determine if you are drunk. 

The officer may ask you to take a roadside breathalyzer test. You can refuse the roadside breath test, but not without consequences.

For example, the state automatically suspends your driver’s license for one year for refusing to take a certified breathalyzer. You may not qualify for a hardship license if your license is suspended for violating the implied consent law.

What Should I Do if I’m Arrested for OWI in Indianapolis, IN?

A police officer can arrest you for OWI even though you do not take a breathalyzer or other chemical test if the officer has probable cause to believe you are intoxicated. After the arrest, the officer could request a search warrant for a blood draw for a BAC blood test.

Regardless of whether the state has your BAC levels from a chemical test, a DUI arrest is not a conviction. The state must prove the legal elements of OWI to obtain a drunk driving conviction. Your best option is to contact an experienced Indianapolis DUI attorney for a free consultation. One or more DUI defenses could result in a dismissal or acquittal of the charges. Before pleading guilty, talk with a lawyer about defenses to your OWI charges in Indianapolis, IN.

Contact the Indianapolis DUI Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers For Help Today

From the moment you are arrested, you are allowed to consult with an attorney before speaking to the police or making any decisions. You should insist on this as soon as possible. You have tough decisions ahead of you, and they will have a significant effect on your future.

For more information, contact the DUI Defense attorneys at Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers give us a call today at (317) 759-2599 or visit us at our Indianapolis law office.

Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers – Indianapolis
101 W Ohio St #2000
Indianapolis, In 46204
United States