In Indiana, the crime for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is known as OWI—operating while intoxicated. While each state sets its own laws and consequences, many states have ramped up the penalties for OWI offenses in recent years. This is due to increasing public pressure and the stigmatization of driving while intoxicated.
What does this mean for you if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence a second time? You may need to prepare for an uphill battle. The State may push hard for stiffer penalties to make an example of you and try to discourage further offenses. You need an attorney who has substantial experience in the realm of OWI law.
Penalties for a Second OWI in Indiana
Indiana is one state with tough penalties for intoxicated drivers, which you may have discovered after your first OWI charge. However, for each subsequent offense, the stakes get higher. If your first OWI occurred in the seven years prior to your second arrest, you will be facing felony charges instead of a misdemeanor charge. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and the judge assigned to your case, you could face up to 2.5 years in prison and fines as high as $10,000. If your first OWI was more than seven years ago, a misdemeanor charge could lead to up to one year in jail and a fine as high as $5,000.
For many, the loss of their driver’s license is one of the most serious penalties. Since this is an administrative penalty, it does not require a conviction. Your license may be automatically suspended when the results of your chemical test reach the BMV. After a second OWI, your license can be suspended for up to two years. Offenders face a minimum of a 180-day suspension for a failed test and a two-year suspension for refusal to take a test. Those who do not refuse a chemical test can request specialized driving privileges to travel to and from approved places during the suspension period. If you rely on your vehicle to get to work, you’ll need to work with your lawyer to explore your options. If the OWI charge is dismissed or the offender is found not guilty, the BMV reinstates their driving privileges.
Factors That Lead to More Serious Consequences
Certain circumstances could leave you with a longer jail sentence and/or higher fines. Compounding factors include:
- High BAC. Minimum penalties are typically restricted to drivers with a BAC level between 0.08 and 0.15. If your BAC is above 0.15, your charges may be upgraded.
- Minor passenger(s) in the vehicle. Having children in the car while driving under the influence can lead to upgraded felony charges.
- An accident causing injury or death. Obviously, causing injuries or fatalities while intoxicated can lead to additional charges and penalties. However, you may face additional penalties even if your second OWI charge doesn’t cause injury or death. If your first OWI conviction caused serious bodily injury or death, your second OWI conviction automatically becomes a Class 5 felony.
Why You Should Choose Rigney Law LLC
It’s important to seek legal representation as soon as you get arrested for operating while intoxicated. Anything you say can weaken your defense, so you should only speak to officers after consulting an attorney present. We know a wide range of legal strategies that can reduce or wipe out your charges, from proving that the initial traffic stop was unlawful or challenging the results of the breathalyzer test to demonstrating that you were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the arrest. Our defense strategy depends on the unique circumstances of your case—call us at 317-430-7370 now so we can start exploring your legal options.