A DUI conviction has the potential to affect your life in multiple ways. In addition to worsening your criminal history, Indiana drivers with OWI charges are likely to face legal consequences from their convictions. This is not a situation in which you should try to handle your own defense; the consequences may follow you for the rest of your life. You need an effective Indianapolis DUI attorney who is dedicated to helping you fight your charges.
DUI v. OWI
It is common for our prospective clients to ask about the difference between DUI and OWI. In Indiana, there is really no difference. DUI and OWI are simply different acronyms for the same crime in Indiana: Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.
Testing in Indiana
Most operating while intoxicated investigations begin with a traffic stop for a minor traffic offense. If an officer suspects you of operating while intoxicated, you’ll be subjected to testing. Indiana, like many other states, requires anyone driving on state roads to consent to a certified chemical test. This is true even if you are driving in Indiana with a license from another state.
Those who refuse to consent to a certified chemical test often face more severe punishments than those who agree to testing right away. Refusing a certified chemical test in the face of probable cause results in an automatic one-year suspension of your driver’s license. If you have a prior conviction for operating while intoxicated, the suspension will last for two years. In addition, you cannot receive specialized driving privileges while serving a refusal suspension.
Before you’re subjected to a chemical breath test, you’ll likely be offered several roadside tests, also known and standardized field sobriety tests. These tests are not always as accurate, particularly if they are administered by an inexperienced or untrained officer. Your lawyer will examine all the circumstances and results of the tests you take to determine whether or not they are valid.
Penalties for OWI Charges
Penalties vary widely for OWI charges in Indiana. Much depends on whether it is your first offense or you’ve been arrested for operating under the influence before, as well as your blood alcohol level. The State charges most “first-timers” with the class A Misdemeanor offense, which carries a penalty of up to 365 days in the county jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Circumstances vary, but most first time offenders receive a probation sentence.
The penalties become more severe for repeat offenders. While a first offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor, a second offense within seven years is usually charged as a felony. Fines can be as high as $10,000 and offenders face up to 2.5 years in prison. The minimum sentences usually include probation, and a choice between a short jail sentence or a massive amount of community service work.
Compounding Factors in OWI/DUI Cases
Certain factors can substantially increase the potential penalties in an OWI case. Some factors that could lead to more serious charges and consequences include:
- Operating while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle. If you have a person under 18 years of age in the vehicle while you operate while intoxicated, the State may charge you with a felony offense.
- Causing serious bodily injury or death while under the influence. Any OWI—even a first offense—becomes a felony when the driver seriously injures or kills someone in an accident. In accidents with multiple fatalities, each fatality is a separate offense and the charges may be run consecutively.
Why Choose Rigney Law?
At Rigney Law, we have extensive experience with OWI cases, whether you’ve just been arrested for the first time or you have multiple offenses behind you. Our office has the experience to tell the difference between a good case and a bad case, and we provide the type of accessibility to our clients to make sure they know what’s going on with their case and exactly what their situation is. Don’t wait to call Rigney Law. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we can start analyzing your case. Call our team at 317-430-7370 to get started.