Sentencing for an OWI/DUI

For a 1st time OWI/DUI conviction, it will depend on whether you were charged with a Class A or Class C misdemeanor.

A typical OWI is a Class C misdemeanor with a minimum sentence of 0 to a maximum of 60 days and maximum $500 fine.

A Class A misdemeanor, which is usually charged when the arresting officer determines you were driving in a manner which “endangered” others or the driver. A Class A misdemeanor has a minimum sentence of 0 days to a maximum of 1 year in jail.

Are there alternatives to jail after an OWI/DUI?

Typically, assuming there are no unusual circumstances, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea agreement that includes time served and a suspended sentence. However, each case is unique and will be determined by the facts of that case.

There is a license suspension of 90 days with no driving at all for that 90 days period. As long as you did not refuse any chemical test, you can get “credit” for time served while suspended pre-trail, which can be used toward the 90-day suspension.

The other alternative is to have a 180-day license suspension, with eligibility for a “hardship” license after the first 30 days of the suspension. Keep in mind, most courts will not issue a hardship license while an OWI case is pending.

Can I get a hardship license if I refused testing?

If you refused any chemical test requested by the arresting officer, you will not be eligible for any type of hardship license. When you refuse a chemical test, you will be facing a one-year license suspension on top of any suspension handed down by the court.

So, worst-case scenario, if you were arrested and charged with an OWI with a refusal, you could potentially be facing a total of 15 months of suspension time (1 year for the refusal and 90 days for the conviction).

You can also expect to be placed on probation anywhere from 60 days up to one year. Most reporting probations placed multiple terms and conditions on you while on probation. Some of those terms include not picking up any additional criminal charges, random alcohol testing, no alcohol consumption (even in your own home), and no firearms in your residence.

What happens after I complete my sentencing?

Upon completion of all parts of your sentence, some jurisdictions allow you to either terminate your probation early or allow the remainder of your probation to be used as non-reporting. Non-reporting probation typically has two requirements:

  • Keep a current address and phone number with the probation department
  • Stay out of trouble! An experienced OWI attorney will be able to secure some, if not all, of these probation modifications for you, even if you are not aware of them.

You will also be required to complete an alcohol evaluation and recommended treatment as part of your sentence. A certified alcohol counselor will assess your issues with alcohol and then determine the proper course of treatment for you.

Your treatment could range from alcohol education classes, which could last from 12-20 hours to an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), where you would typically be required to attend 3-hour sessions, 3 times a week.

The IOP could last for several months, depending on your progress. Finally, in the worst case, the counselor could order you to complete an inpatient treatment program, where you would be confined to a treatment facility for the duration of the program. These types of programs generally last anywhere from 30 to 180 days, depending on the patient’s progress.

Also, as part of your sentence, you will be required to attend what is known as the Destructive Decision, or, Victims Impact Panel. This is an evening meeting where you will sit and listen to the stories of people whose lives have been affected by drunk drivers. A panel speaker may be a mother who lost her daughter to a drunk driver. The speakers are to help you make better decisions going forward.

Major changes will be occurring on 7.1.14 with the implementation of the new Indiana criminal code sections. Please make sure to seek advice from an experienced OWI attorney such as Rock Lee with Suhre & Associates, LLC to advise you on the new changes.