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Indianapolis DUI Attorney

Advocating To Protect Your Rights

Were you accused of driving your car while intoxicated? Several states commonly refer to driving under the influence as DUI, however, in Indiana when you operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs you can be charged with Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI). These charges might seem like something you can just ignore at first, but you shouldn’t. The outcome of the case could damage your livelihood if you lose your driving privileges. Can you keep your job if you can’t drive anymore? Ask yourself this question and others like it to understand just how important it is for you to defend yourself from the charges.

A conviction for Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI) in Indiana can result in jail time, the loss of your driving privileges, and other consequences that significantly affect your life. Take these charges and your defense seriously and contact an experienced Indianapolis DUI lawyer.

Why Choose Our DUI Lawyers in Indianapolis?

The Criminal Defense Team has more than 100+ years of collective criminal defense experience to put to good use for your OWI case. Our criminal defense attorneys in Indianapolis know how to win difficult cases that would scare off other law firms. When you want to fight an OWI charge instead of just accepting it, you want us by your side.

The Criminal Defense Team can meet with you to discuss your charges, possible penalties, and potential defenses.

Call (317) OUR-TEAM to speak with our Indianapolis OWI defense lawyers today.

How The Criminal Defense Team Can Help If You Are Facing OWI Charges

If you are facing OWI charges, it is important that you act quickly and begin lodging a defense to these charges to catch up with the prosecutor. The Criminal Defense Team of Baldwin Perry & Wiley PC can build a solid defense on your behalf. When you hire our firm, we can:

  • Review the charges against you and advise you of your rights
  • Answer any questions you have about the process
  • Investigate your case to uncover problems with the traffic stop or the prosecution’s case
  • Argue to have your charges dismissed or reduced, as appropriate
  • Identify all potential defenses to raise in your case
  • Negotiate with the prosecution for a favorable plea deal
  • Represent you at trial

Our award-winning team and board-certified legal specialists are prepared to build an aggressive defense on your behalf. Contact us today to take advantage of a free case review to learn more about how we can help. 

What Is OWI?

Most states refer to the act of driving a motor vehicle with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as DUI or DWI. In Indiana, this act is called OWI, which stands for Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated. It is illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle while they have a certain amount of alcohol or controlled substances in their system. 

Indiana has a standard blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for adult drivers, which is set at 0.08. Once an adult driver’s BAC reaches 0.08 or exceeds it, then they are “legally intoxicated,” which means it is strictly illegal for them to operate a motor vehicle. Minors in Indiana are legally intoxicated if their BAC level is just 0.02, and commercial drivers are usually held to a BAC level of just 0.04.

You can also be charged with OWI if you don’t have a BAC limit of 0.08. This can happen if you have any alcohol in your system and drive unsafely or erratically.

Under Indiana DUI law, a person can be charged with an OWI offense under any of the following laws:

  • IC 9-30-5-1(a) – This law states it is a Class C misdemeanor to operate a motor vehicle with at least 0.08 but less than 0.15 grams of alcohol per weight in your breath or blood. 
  • IC 9-30-5-1(b) – This law states it is a Class A misdemeanor to operate a motor vehicle with 0.15 grams of alcohol per weight or more in your breath or blood.
  • IC 9-30-5-1(c) – This law states it is a Class C misdemeanor to operate a motor vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance or its metabolite.
  • IC 9-30-5-2 – While the offenses described above are per se offenses in which a person can be charged when their BAC exceeds a certain amount, it is also possible under Indiana law to be charged with OWI if your BAC is below these amounts. This law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Intoxication is defined as being under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, another drug, or a combination of these that causes “an impaired condition of thought and action and loss of normal control of a person’s faculties.” This is a Class C misdemeanor.
  • IC 9-30-5-2(b)  – This crime elevates the offense of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated to a Class A misdemeanor when they also operate a motor vehicle in a way that endangers a person.

Subsequent convictions can result in stiffer penalties and elevated criminal charges.

It is also illegal under Indiana law for a person under 21 years of age to drive with a BAC of 0.02 percent or more. 

Penalties For OWI

If you are arrested for OWI in Indiana, you will face immediate consequences. You will usually be immediately transported to the police station and booked. Your vehicle will be towed, and you will need to pay to get it out of impound. You will usually be required to post bond to be released from jail. Your license can be administratively suspended by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  Possible penalties for an OWI conviction in Indiana can include:

  • Years in prison or up to a year in jail
  • Thousands of dollars in fines paid to the state
  • Loss of driving privileges

How big the fine is and much jail time or how long your license is suspended depends on several factors, including previous OWI offenses:

First Offense

  • Up to one year in jail 
  • A fine up to $5,000
  • License suspension up to two years or 30 days followed by 180 days of probationary driving, which only allows you to drive for employment purposes

Second Offense

  • Five days to three years’ incarceration
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • 180 days to two years license suspension

Third Offense

  • Ten days to three years incarceration
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • License suspension of one to ten years

If a person has been convicted of a previous OWI within five years of their arrest, they can be charged with a Level 6 felony. This offense carries a punishment of six months to 2.5 years imprisonment, with an advisory sentence of 1.5 years. They can also be required to pay a fine up to $10,000. If you’ve been charged with a felony due to a DUI, contact our felony DUI attorneys in Indianapolis.

Individuals who are convicted of OWI may also face other consequences, such as:

  • Having to complete a substance abuse education course
  • Having to pay court costs and fees 
  • Being sentenced as a habitual substance offender 
  • Being required to attend a victim impact panel
  • Being required to submit to urine testing for alcohol and drugs
  • Facing other terms of probation
  • Being required to perform community service

The penalties for an OWI conviction in Indiana can be varied based on the circumstances of your arrest and your driving history. Some people will only face fines and a temporary license suspension for OWI. Others might end up in jail and lose their driving privileges indefinitely. 

Remember: The ability to drive is a privilege that you must earn. It is not a right. This difference makes it easier for the state to stop you from driving, even for a first-time OWI. 

Reasons for Enhanced DUI Sentencing

An OWI charge and the sentencing upon conviction can escalate or become “enhanced” for many reasons. The Criminal Defense Team in Indianapolis has the experience and insight required to handle complex OWI cases, including those that might end in enhanced sentencing.

OWI sentencing can be increased in Indiana if the criminal defendant:

  • Has a history of driving-related criminal convictions.
  • Injured someone in a OWI accident.
  • Knowingly committed the OWI with a minor nearby or in the vehicle.
  • Violated the conditions of their parole or community corrections placement.
  • Threatened harm to anyone who would report the OWI to the police.
  • And various other situations.

In the event you are being charged with further sentencing due to a DUI such as a DUI hit-and-run or a DUI vehicular homicide in Indianapolis, contact our DUI attorneys in Indianapolis today.

Possible OWI Defenses

If you are facing charges for OWI, it is important that you mount an effective and aggressive defense. Your attorney may be able to raise defenses such as:

Lack of Reasonable Suspicion for a Traffic Stop

A law enforcement officer cannot execute a traffic stop without legal justification. Instead, they must observe you committing a traffic offense or have reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime. If there was no reasonable suspicion, the stop and any evidence related to it may be suppressed as evidence, which can often be enough to have all of the charges dismissed. 

Failure to Follow DUI Sobriety Checkpoints in Accordance with the Law 

DUI sobriety checkpoints are mandatory stops in which law enforcement officers stop vehicles to check if drivers are sober. While these are legal, law enforcement agencies must follow strict protocols. If they don’t, the underlying arrest may be unjustified.

Not Following Field Sobriety Test Standards

There are certain field sobriety tests that law enforcement officers may conduct to gather evidence that a driver is intoxicated. However, these tests must be completed according to strict protocols. If they are not, their results may be deemed unreliable. Additionally, there are reasons that someone could fail such tests without having any alcohol in their system, such as not understanding the English language or not having the proper shoes. You are under no obligation to take these tests, but if you submitted to them, an experienced DUI defense lawyer can question their credibility. 

Medical Conditions 

Various medical conditions can affect how alcohol is metabolized in the body. These could cause you to test at a much higher BAC level, even if you were not actually intoxicated. 

Testing Problems

There could be various issues related to the collection of the test sample that make the results unreliable. The lab technician may have made a mistake, or an officer who gave you a roadside breath test may not have followed the appropriate procedures. Breathalyzer machines could be defective or not recently calibrated.

Chain of Custody Issues

Law enforcement officers are required to maintain the integrity of evidence. If this evidence has not been properly stored or kept in a safe manner, it could be unreliable or degraded.

Lack of Evidence

The prosecution bears the burden of proving that you committed the offense by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If they cannot meet this heavy burden, the charges against you could be dismissed, or you could be acquitted of the offense. 

In addition to making these types of arguments, your Indianapolis DUI lawyer can also try to have your charges dismissed or reduced. It may be possible to enter into a pretrial diversion program, especially if you are a first-time offender. 

An experienced Indianapolis DUI attorney can help determine the best approach for your case. 

OWI Defense FAQ

What is BAC?

BAC is short for blood alcohol concentration. It can be measured with various chemical tests (breath, urine, and blood). The result is used to determine if the driver is “legally intoxicated.”

Are field sobriety tests mandatory?

You are not legally required to take a field sobriety test (FST) if you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. There are no legal consequences for refusing this initial test.

Do I have to take a breath test?

Indiana law requires you to take a breathalyzer test or another form of chemical test to determine your BAC while stopped for OWI. If you refuse to take a breath test, then your license can be immediately suspended, even if you are completely sober.

Can I get charged if I wasn’t drunk?

Yes, you can be charged with a driving violation if you were not drunk or did not have a BAC level that exceeded the legal maximum. It depends on if you are driving unsafely and if you have had any alcohol at all that can be detected by a chemical test.

Can a passenger drink alcohol in Indiana?

It is illegal for a passenger to drink alcohol in Indiana, except for specific exceptions for certain commercial vehicles. The state has an open container law that makes it unlawful to drive with an open container of alcohol anywhere that can be easily accessed by the driver.

Can I represent myself in my drunk driving case?

Technically, yes, you have the right to represent yourself in a drunk driving case. However, it’s generally not recommended. DUI/OWI cases can be complex and involve various legal and technical issues. A skilled Indianapolis DUI defense attorney will have knowledge of the laws, procedures, and strategies needed to navigate the legal system effectively and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Representing yourself may result in mistakes that could lead to harsher penalties, fines, and a criminal record. It’s highly recommended to seek the assistance of an experienced DUI defense attorney for the best possible defense and outcome in your case.

How long will my OWI case take to resolve?

The length of time it takes to resolve an OWI case in Indianapolis can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the case, the court’s caseload, and the availability of evidence and witnesses. Some cases can be resolved relatively quickly, while others may take several months or even years to reach a resolution. It’s important to work with an experienced OWI defense attorney who can guide you through the legal process and work to resolve your case as efficiently and effectively as possible. Your attorney can provide a more accurate estimate of the time it may take to resolve your specific case based on the circumstances and details involved.

Will I lose my driver’s license if I am convicted of DUI?

In Indiana, if you are convicted of DUI (Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated, or OWI), your driver’s license will generally be suspended. The length of the suspension depends on various factors, including your prior DUI history and the circumstances of your case. For a first-time DUI offense in Indiana, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to 180 days. However, if you qualify for and participate in a specialized program called “Specialized Driving Privileges” (SDP), you may be eligible to receive limited driving privileges during the suspension period. SDP allows you to drive for specific purposes such as work, school, medical appointments, and other essential activities. For subsequent DUI offenses within a certain period of time, the suspension periods can be longer, ranging from one to ten years or even a lifetime suspension in some cases.