Indiana DUI Lawyer
Indiana police officers must follow specific protocols when making a DUI arrest. If you have been charged with a DUI/OWI in Indiana, your rights may have been violated by the arresting officers. The Indiana DUI lawyers at Stein Law specialize in protecting your rights and leveraging a strong defense.
The legal term for a DUI in Indiana is “operating a vehicle while intoxicated” (OWI). The consequences of an OWI conviction in Indiana could include incarceration, license suspension, fines, and a record that follows you for the rest of your life. You need an Indiana OWI lawyer on your side who will fight for you.
The Indiana criminal defense lawyers at Stein Law stand ready to protect your rights, your freedom, and your future by ensuring you receive fair treatment and an effective defense.
What is the legal limit in Indiana?
According to Title 9 of the Indiana Code, drivers aged 21 and older are legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol content (BAC) tests at 0.08 or higher. Underage drivers are legally intoxicated if their BAC reaches or exceeds 0.02. For drivers operating commercial vehicles, the legal limit is 0.04.
Blood alcohol content may be measured through a portable Breathalyzer test or a blood test.
All drivers are legally intoxicated if any level of Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances are detected. If you have a valid prescription for such a substance, this can be used in your defense.
Am I required to take the Breathalyzer or blood test?
According to Indiana’s implied consent laws, when you drive a motor vehicle, you agree to take chemical tests for intoxication when requested by law enforcement.
A law enforcement officer with probable cause may request that you take a test. If you refuse, you will be arrested, and the refusal will be admitted into evidence.
Refusal to take a test constitutes a Class C infraction, resulting in a mandatory court appearance and a one-year suspension of your driving privileges for a first offense or two years for a second offense.
Penalties for OWI/DUI in Indiana
Driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days of incarceration and a fine of up to $500, according to the Indiana criminal code.
You can also be ordered to pay restitution of $1,000 for emergency medical services if they became necessary due to your OWI.
Your driving privileges are immediately suspended while your case is pending. If you plead guilty or are convicted, your license will remain suspended.
Persons under 21 years of age who test positive for a BAC of 0.02 or greater but less than 0.08 are charged with a Class C infraction, resulting in a mandatory court appearance and suspension of driving privileges for a year or longer.
Prior convictions and certain aggravating factors can result in these charges being upgraded to more serious offenses.
For a first offense, the DUI court may order the following in addition to the misdemeanor penalties:
You may be able to get charges dismissed for a first offense if you pay all your fines, complete your sentence, and successfully finish a drug or alcohol abuse or deterrence program.
If you receive a second DUI within 7 years of a previous conviction that occurred after you turned 21, the offense becomes a Level 6 felony.
If the previous conviction involved death, catastrophic injury, or serious bodily injury, the charge is upgraded to a Level 5 felony punishable by imprisonment of 2 to 8 years and a fine of up to $10,000. In addition, the following administrative penalties apply:
A driver convicted of a third or subsequent OWI charge can be designated as a habitual offender if one of the previous convictions occurred within the past ten years.
A prison sentence for a third OWI cannot be suspended, and you will not be eligible for good behavior credits.
Aggravating circumstances include excessively high BAC, endangerment of others, and bodily injury.
Excessively High BAC
If a .15 BAC or higher is detected, the charges are upgraded from a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor, resulting in a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.
Endangerment of Others
Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in a manner that endangers others can also result in the OWI charge being upgraded from a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor.
If you are caught driving under the influence while transporting a minor, your OWI can be upgraded to a Level 6 felony. A level 6 felony is punishable by six months to two-and-a-half years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
An Indiana DUI resulting in serious bodily injury to another is a Level 5 felony for a first offense. If you have a prior DUI conviction within the past 5 years, the charge is upgraded to a Level 4 felony punishable by a period of 2 to 12 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the injuries to other persons are catastrophic or fatal, a level 4 felony will be charged for a first offense. A separate offense is charged for each injured person.
Can I be charged with OWI if my test results are negative?
Probable cause alone is enough for a DUI arrest, although it may not be enough for a conviction. The state of Indiana allows an officer to arrest a person for OWI if any of the following is true:
What is an ignition interlock device?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a type of Breathalyzer that prevents a vehicle from starting until a negative intoxication test is confirmed.
The court may grant specialized driving privileges in lieu of a driver’s license suspension while your case is pending. If so, the court will order the installation of an IID in your vehicle at your expense. In Indiana, the device must be set to disable the car if the BAC tests to a level of 0.02 or higher.
If the court orders you to drive only vehicles equipped with an IID, you are not allowed to drive unequipped vehicles. Violating such an order is a Class A misdemeanor. Tampering with an ignition interlock device to circumvent or alter its results is a Class B misdemeanor.
What defense is available if I have been charged with OWI?
When you have been charged with a DUI offense, you may feel powerless because the chemical testing evidence against you appears to be strong. This is what the prosecution wants you to believe.
An Indiana DUI defense lawyer can investigate the procedures that were used in your case. Neither law enforcement nor tests are infallible, and Indiana laws provide grounds for a defense.
Improper Testing Procedures
Chemical tests for intoxication require specific protocols to be followed to ensure the accuracy of the tests. When these protocols are not followed, an Indiana DUI lawyer can ensure these results are not admitted into evidence.
State law requires DUI tests to be administered within three hours of law enforcement finding cause to stop you. Testing that occurs outside this window is inadmissible.
Procedures When Testing Is Refused
Refusing to take a chemical test can have serious consequences. Law enforcement is required to follow specific procedures to ensure you have every opportunity to consent to the test.
When you refuse the test, the officer must inform you that refusal to take the test could result in the suspension of your driving privileges, then offer you another opportunity to consent.
The officer must offer you the opportunity to take an alternative test, such as a blood test.
If an officer fails to follow through with this protocol, an Indiana DUI lawyer could show that you did not refuse the test, but that you did not receive ample opportunity to consent.
Incompetent Test Administration
The law enforcement officer administering a Breathalyzer must be trained to administer the test. Otherwise, the officer may transport the individual to a licensed medical professional or another qualified individual for testing.
Lack of Probable Cause
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement must have a reasonable suspicion that you are violating the law before they can pull you over or require a sobriety test.
Reasonable suspicion can include small infractions such as a broken taillight or an odor of liquor
Controlled Substances Besides Alcohol
An officer can arrest you for OWI if any level of a controlled substance is detected through chemical testing. However, the state of Indiana allows you to use any of the following as a defense against such charges:
- You hold a valid prescription for the substance.
- The substance is marijuana.
- You were not intoxicated.
- You did not cause a traffic accident.
- The substance was identified through a chemical test.
What should I do if I am stopped by the police?
Stay calm and maintain a cooperative attitude. Do not argue with the police, and do not offer a statement without an attorney. Do not resist arrest. The police may try to convince you that invoking your right to remain silent and consulting an attorney points to your guilt, but this is not the case.
When you provide a statement to the police without an attorney present, your words can be misconstrued, and you do not have the benefit of a witness in your favor to vouch for what you said.
Should I take the Breathalyzer test?
Refusal to take a sobriety test in Indiana can have consequences that are more adverse than failing a test. Breathalyzer tests are notoriously inaccurate. If you must refuse a test, at the very least, consider consenting to an alternative form of testing such as a blood test, which is more reliable. This is your right.
How can an Indiana DUI Attorney help with my case?
When you are charged with an OWI/DUI, you face an uncertain future, especially if it is not your first offense. Every word you say and every decision you make could weigh heavily on how your case resolves.
You need an experienced Indiana DUI defense lawyer on your side who knows the law and has the skills and the will to fight for you. The best DUI lawyers in Indiana have comprehensive knowledge about testing protocols, the science of testing, police procedure, and DUI laws.
At Stein Law, our experienced Indiana OWI lawyers know how to put this knowledge to work for you. All our clients can expect to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity while our lawyers go to work for you.
If you have been arrested for OWI in Indiana, don’t wait to contact an attorney. The longer you wait, the more you could harm your case without realizing it.
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