There are 6 Board-Certified* Lawyers in the state of Indiana, and 5 of them are on The Criminal Defense Team.
Being accused of driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is one of our clients’ most common charges. While on the surface, it usually appears that the prosecutor has enough evidence to win every case, it is only by digging into the case that our firm can determine its strength and the possibility of winning. If you were arrested or charged with DUI, you should contact The Criminal Defense Team immediately.
Even when cases look unwinnable, we believe in thoroughly vetting each one because you never know what idea may turn up that could start to dismantle the prosecutor’s case. For example, our firm has successfully defended clients accused of drunk driving at jury trials, including a client who admitted on video that he was too drunk to drive. We have even successfully defended someone found behind the wheel of a vehicle with over five times the legal amount of alcohol in their system.
How does that happen? A lot of brainstorming with over 120 collective years of experience is a good start. Also, knowing what legal and factual arguments to make that could sway a prosecutor or jury can have a major impact. Having a reputation that your firm is willing to go to trial is also vital.
In most cases, the goal is to obtain the best plea possible. However, we never want to abandon the thought that we could win the case. It is difficult to win these cases, but having a team of lawyers with a track record of successfully defending those accused of drunk driving can make all the difference. We have lawyers dedicated to staying on top of the ever-changing laws concerning driver’s license suspensions following a DUI arrest. We will do what we can to use those laws to keep you driving, if that is possible, once you have been accused of DUI.
Having the wrong lawyer on a DUI case can result in unnecessary and long-lasting consequences. Although we can’t promise your outcome, we can tell you that you probably won’t get the outcome you deserve by hiring the wrong lawyer. The Criminal Defense Team has several Board Certified* attorneys among our ranks who can help you mount the defense you deserve.
Call (317) 687-8326 Now to Speak to an Attorney
Our team of lawyers is uniquely qualified to protect your freedom and interests. We believe in taking swift, aggressive action to out-maneuver the prosecution and build a strong defense. We’ve done it for thousands of clients, and we can do it for you.
We defend clients in Hamilton County, Marion County, Johnson County, Hancock County, Shelby County, Boone County, Hendricks County, and counties throughout Indiana. We can help you as well. Call The Criminal Defense Team today at (317) 687-8326 for an initial and confidential consultation.
What Is DUI?
DUI is the acronym for driving under the influence. Alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription medications, and even certain over-the-counter medications could all impede a driver’s ability to drive safely. For example, allergy medicine could cause drowsiness. When you drive with any substance in your body that could inhibit your mental or physical faculties, you put other motorists in danger.
Common side effects of alcohol, controlled substances, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications include:
- Slower reaction time
- Reduced motor skills
- Blurry vision
- Poor decision-making skills
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Decrease in alertness
- Loss of consciousness
Indiana laws refer to driving under the influence as operating while intoxicated (OWI). You’re not allowed to operate a motor vehicle:
- With a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance in your system;
- With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more; or
- While intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.
Examples of Schedule I and Schedule I drugs that can result in an OWI charge include:
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
The Drug Enforcement Administration provides a complete list of all drugs they consider to be controlled substances.
It’s illegal for someone under 21 years old to purchase or possess alcohol. Although someone over the age of 21 can legally drive with a BAC under .08%, a person who isn’t of legal drinking age faces stricter laws. Indiana’s zero-tolerance law prohibits anyone under 21 years old to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more. Even if there’s a small amount of alcohol in your body, you could still face harsh criminal penalties.
DUI Penalties In Indiana
The penalties you might face if a jury convicts you of DUI vary. It will depend on the circumstances surrounding your case and whether this is your first offense or you’re a repeat offender. You could be forced to pay an expensive fine or even end up behind bars. It could also remain on your record, creating problems if you’re looking for a job or applying for higher education. An OWI conviction is something that can follow you for the rest of your life and ruin your reputation.
Six classes (or levels) of felony crimes and three classes of misdemeanor crimes exist in Indiana. Each comes with its own sentencing guideline that the court could use at its discretion when determining the punishment you should receive. These guidelines include a range of fines and jail time. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, the court could choose a sentence on the higher end or lower end.
For instance, if you’re facing your fourth felony OWI charge and severely injured someone in a car accident, you could face the maximum prison sentence. However, if this is your first offense and there was no bodily injury or property damage, the court could decide that probation is a fair sentence.
Below are the OWI sentencing guidelines used during sentencing:
|Level 1 felony||20 – 40 years||$0 – $10,000|
|Level 2 felony||10 – 30 years||$0 – $10,000|
|Level 3 felony||3 – 16 years||$0 – $10,000|
|Level 4 felony||2 – 12 years||$0 – $10,000|
|Level 5 felony||1 – 6 years||$0 – $10,000|
|Level 6 felony||6 months – 2 ½ years||$0 – $10,000|
|Class A misdemeanor||0 days – 1 year||$0 – $5,000|
|Class B misdemeanor||0 days – 180 days||$0 – $1,000|
|Class C misdemeanor||0 days – 60 days||$0 – $500|
If you were charged with any level felony DUI, the court could impose an advisory sentence. The range for prison sentencing is quite extensive. Deciding whether someone deserves 20 years or 40 years for a level 1 felony can be challenging for the court. They could use the advisory sentence as a starting point and decrease or increase the amount of prison time based on your case’s facts.
The advisory sentencing guidelines are:
|Level 1 felony||30 years|
|Level 2 felony||17 ½ years|
|Level 3 felony||9 years|
|Level 4 felony||6 years|
|Level 5 felony||3 years|
|Level 6 felony||1 year|
We know how stressful and overwhelming it can be when you might have to serve a prison sentence. It might destroy your reputation and future. Convicted felons can also have a difficult time finding a job upon their release. The Criminal Defense Team attorneys can review the facts of your case and determine whether the charge you’re facing is fair. We will create a strategy to try to get those charges dropped or reduced.
Enhanced Sentencing Guidelines In Indiana
Indiana statute 35-38-1-7.1 provides a list of aggravating circumstances that could result in a higher sentence than the advisory sentence. They include:
- The offender has a criminal history or history of delinquent behavior.
- The injury, harm, loss, or damage the victim suffered was significant and greater than the circumstances necessary to prove the defendant committed this crime.
- The victim was at least 65 years old or under 12 years old when the offender committed DUI.
- The defendant committed a violent crime and knowingly committed DUI within the hearing or in the presence of a person under 18 years old who wasn’t the victim.
- The offender violated a workplace violence restraining order or protective order against the person who filed it at the time of the offense.
- The defendant violated the conditions of their parole, probation, community corrections placement, pardon, or pretrial release.
- The victim was disabled, and the offender knew or should have known about the disability.
- The offender had custody, care, or control of the victim at the time of the offense.
- The defendant threatened to harm a witness or victim if they told anyone about the DUI offense.
Indiana statute 35-38-1-7.1 also provides mitigating circumstances that could result in sentencing lower than the advisory sentence. They are:
- The offense didn’t cause or threaten serious harm to another person or someone’s property.
- The crime occurred due to circumstances unlikely to happen again.
- The victim harmed at the time of the OWI facilitated it.
- Substantial grounds exist to justify or excuse the crime.
- The defendant was acting under significant provocation.
- The offender doesn’t have a criminal history or history of delinquent behavior.
- The defendant would likely respond favorably to a short prison sentence or probation.
- The offender exhibits attitudes and character that make it unlikely that they would commit another crime.
- The offender made or intends to make restitution for any damage, injury, or losses caused by the DUI.
- Imprisonment will cause unnecessary hardships to the defendant or their dependents.
If you are a habitual offender, meaning you were convicted not only of OWI but of other criminal offenses, you could face an enhanced sentence according to the habitual offenders sentencing guidelines. The prosecutor could use the defendant’s criminal history to increase the prison sentence anywhere from two to 20 years, depending on how many prior felony convictions there are and the timeframe they accrued.
Level 1 – Level 4 Felonies
The court could determine someone is a habitual offender if they were convicted of a level 1 – 4 felony and:
- Have two prior convictions for felonies unrelated to the current DUI conviction; and
- At least one of those prior felonies isn’t a level 6 felony.
The enhanced penalty would be between six and 20 additional years in prison.
Level 5 Felony
A person is a habitual offender if they’re facing a level 5 felony DUI and:
- Have two prior unrelated felonies;
- At least one of the prior convictions wasn’t for a level 6 felony;
- Faced allegations of a prior unrelated level 5 or 6 felony; and
- No more than ten years have passed between being released from prison or completing probation or parole and the DUI offense date.
The court could impose an enhanced penalty of between two and six more years in prison.
Level 6 Felony
A habitual offender facing a level 6 felony is someone who:
- Has three prior convictions unrelated to the OWI;
- Faced allegations of a prior level 5 or 6 felony; and
- The timeframe between the offender’s release from prison, parole, or probation and the current crime date does not exceed ten years.
The court could add two to six years to the prison sentence.
Another enhancement under Indiana statute 9-30-15.5-2 is known as the Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender (HVSO) statute. The judge could decide someone is a habitual offender and enhance their prison sentence for longer than the sentencing guidelines allow if they have multiple DUI convictions.
For example, if someone was already convicted of two prior DUI’s within ten years and is facing another, the court could determine they are an HVSO and enhance their sentencing. If a person faces a fourth DUI conviction, they could be an HVSO regardless of the timeframe between their prior convictions.
The HVSO enhancement could be anywhere from one to eight years in prison on top of the sentencing for the offense you committed. Even if you’re only facing a class C misdemeanor charge, the HVSO enhancement could result in additional years in prison after serving the minimum required 60 days in jail.
License Suspension for DUI Conviction
Other than fines and imprisonment, you could also lose your license for a specific period. An administrative suspension occurs when you submit to a chemical test and there’s alcohol in your system above the legal limit. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) could suspend your license for 180 days. If you refused to take a chemical test, the BMV could suspend your license for up to two years. A longer suspension could occur if you’re a repeat offender with prior DUI convictions.
You might be able to request specialized driving privileges, allowing you to only drive to and from specific locations, such as work or school. Individuals ineligible for special driving privileges are those who:
- Have never been a resident of Indiana.
- Refused to take a chemical test for DUI.
- Received a sentence for causing someone’s death in a car accident.
- Received special driving privileges for a prior offense and violated the conditions of those privileges, leading to someone’s bodily injury or death.
- Were deemed incompetent or unfit to operate a motor vehicle by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
- Had their license suspended for violating laws associated with passing a school bus.
If the court grants you specialized driving privileges, you would receive a hardship license for at least 180 days but no more than two and a half years. During that time, you must:
- Carry a copy of the specialized driving privileges order issued by the court while operating a motor vehicle.
- Carry a valid state-issued identification card or driver’s license.
- Maintain proof of future financial responsibility for as long as you’re allowed specialized driving privileges.
- Show the order to a police officer whenever one requests it.
You should contact The Criminal Defense Team for assistance applying for specialized driving privileges. You must complete specific forms and comply with Indiana statutes if approved for a hardship license. Violating any of those rules could result in a suspended license and additional criminal charges.
Let The Criminal Defense Team Fight for Your Freedom
The Criminal Defense Team is made up of 5 Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists. We work together to ensure our clients receive quality legal services. When you hire us, we will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your case to come up with the right defense strategy. Your DUI charge doesn’t have to destroy your future. We will advocate for your rights during legal proceedings and fight to get those charges dropped or reduced.
You will not be alone as we prepare your case and determine the best legal options moving forward. Throughout your case, we will remain by your side to provide you the support and guidance you need and deserve. The Criminal Defense Team will use aggressive tactics to disprove the prosecution’s arguments in court and show the jury that you should not receive the maximum sentence. We believe in fairness and will work hard to ensure just treatment from start to finish of your case.
If you’re facing DUI charges and want an experienced and dedicated team to defend you, call The Criminal Defense Team today at (317) 687-8326.