Getting arrested for operating while intoxicated can completely change your life, since these charges carry financial consequences, may lead to jail time, and leave you without a driver’s license. After your first offense, subsequent arrests yield more severe punishments. If you’ve been charged or arrested for the third time, it’s crucial to work with an Indiana OWI lawyer who can fight for your rights and find potential defenses for your case.
Penalties for a Third OWI Offense
To start, you will have your driver’s license suspended. If you have a previous OWI conviction, your license will typically be suspended for 180 days if you fail a test and two years if you refuse to take a test. You may be able to get specialized driving privileges if you meet certain requirements; however, those who refuse chemical testing cannot apply for specialized driving privileges.
You’ll likely be facing a combination of fines, jail time, and community service hours after your third OWI charge. If one or more of your previous OWI charges occurred in the previous five years, your third charge is a level 6 felony. Those convicted of a level 6 felony could spend up to 2.5 years in jail, pay a fine as high as $10,000, and be required to complete 480 hours of community service.
Factors That Increase Fines and Jail Time
Certain factors can turn a third offense into a level 5 felony, leading to higher fines and jail time. You’ll be charged with a level 5 felony if you have a previous OWI that led to serious bodily injury or death. With a level 5 felony, you may spend up to six years in jail.
Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender Enhancements
The HVSO sentencing enhancement increases your maximum criminal sentence, allowing the judge to sentence you to more jail time than the standard maximum for your offense. You may be labeled a habitual offender when you are on your third OWI and at least one conviction occurred in the past 10 years. You are also labeled a habitual offender on your fourth OWI, regardless of how long ago your other convictions were.
When you’re at risk of Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender enhancements, you absolutely need an attorney. This sentencing enhancement can add one to eight years to your maximum sentence, and you do not want to defend yourself against these charges alone.
When Does an OWI Charge Become a Felony?
An OWI charge may become a felony even if you are only on your first or second OWI. Your second OWI becomes a level 6 felony if you were convicted of another OWI in the previous five years. You may also be charged with a level 6 felony if you have a minor in the car when you are arrested. An OWI misdemeanor can also be upgraded to a felony if you cause serious bodily injury or death while driving under the influence.
Felony penalties vary widely, depending on which level/class of felony you are charged with. While both level 5 and level 6 felonies carry a maximum fine of $10,000, a level 5 felony has a maximum jail sentence of six years and a level 6 felony carries a maximum sentence of 2.5 years. Those facing a class C felony could spend up to eight years in prison and those convicted of a class B felony may spend as much as 20 years in prison.
Call Us After Your OWI Arrest
If you’ve been arrested for your third OWI or you’re facing felony charges, the costs of representing yourself in court could be substantial. You need an attorney with a thorough understanding of Indiana law and the ability to aggressively defend your rights. Get in touch with Rigney Law LLC as soon as possible to set up a consultation and explore your options—you can reach us 24 hours a day at 317-430-7370.