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Felony DUI in Indiana

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in Indiana. These alcohol- and drug-related crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the aggravating factors. Contact the skilled Indiana DUI lawyers at Stein Law to learn more about the consequences of a felony DUI and be represented by a team you can trust.

Indiana takes felony DUI charges seriously. If you or a loved one have been arrested for a DUI, it is important to understand whether you will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Indiana felony DUIs can carry stiff penalties of up to 12 years imprisonment and $10,000 in fines.

When Indiana authorities charge you with a felony DUI, it can be frightening to consider how the charge could impact your future. You need to know where you can turn for help. The experienced DUI attorneys at Stein Law can offer guidance and support throughout the legal process.

When Does a DUI Become a Felony?

Indiana courts use the legal term OWI, or “operating while intoxicated,” instead of DUI, “driving under the influence,” or DWI, “driving while intoxicated.” While people often use OWI, DUI, and DWI interchangeably to refer to the offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, knowing the difference between OWI and DUI can be helpful.

In Indiana, DUIs can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the factors involved in your arrest. Under Indiana statute, prosecutors can charge you with a DUI misdemeanor if you operate a vehicle with a 0.08 blood alcohol content or higher or while using a controlled schedule I or schedule II substance. First-time DUI offenses are often charged as a misdemeanor unless aggravating factors are involved.

If your charge has instead been classed as a felony, you may be wondering, “what is a felony DUI in Indiana?”

The state can elevate your charges to a felony if any of the following aggravated factors are present during your arrest:

  • You have a previous OWI conviction within the past seven years.
  • You are at least 21 and were driving with a passenger under 18 during your offense.
  • You caused a catastrophic injury or death during your offense.
  • You have a previous OWI conviction for causing serious bodily injury
  • You cause the death of a law enforcement animal while committing an OWI.

Any of these aggravating factors can cause the state to charge your DUI as a felony. If there are multiple aggravating factors, such as multiple catastrophic injuries, deaths, or deaths of service animals, they will each be charged as a separate felony. 

Penalty for Felony DUI Charges

The penalties for your felony DUI in Indiana can vary depending on the felony level you are charged with. Depending on the specifics of your crime, the state of Indiana can charge you for one of three felony levels, each of which carries different penalties.

The court will consider many factors that can lead it to impose a harsher or more lenient sentence within each level.

Level 6 Felony DUI

If you are convicted of a level 6 felony DUI, the Indiana court will sentence you to imprisonment for six months to two and a half years, with an advisory sentence of one year. The court may also fine you up to $10,000.

Level 5 Felony DUI

A level 5 felony DUI conviction in Indiana is accompanied by imprisonment for one to six years with an advisory sentence of three years. The court may also impose up to $10,000 in fines.

Level 4 Felony DUI

If the Indiana court convicts you of a level 4 felony DUI, it will sentence you to imprisonment for 2 to 12 years with an advisory sentence of 6 years. The court may also fine you up to $10,000.

The court has leeway in deciding the penalty for your crime. An experienced Indiana DUI lawyer can expertly represent your case and provide you with a favorable defense to sway the court toward leniency in your sentencing.

How Long Does a Felony DUI Stay On Your Record?

The time a felony conviction stays on your record varies depending on the felony level. A skilled lawyer can help you expunge your record once the minimum required time has passed.

  • A level 6 felony DUI is eligible for expungement 8 years after your date of conviction.
  • A level 5 felony DUI is generally eligible for expungement 10 years after your date of conviction. However, the expungement is at the court’s discretion.
  • A level 4 felony DUI is generally ineligible for expungement until 10 years after your conviction. In some cases, you or your DUI attorney must submit a petition to the court to request expungement, which it could deny. []

Not every DUI felony is eligible for expungement in Indiana. Additional convictions, pending charges, and outstanding fines complicate and extend the expungement process.

Some DUI felonies can stay on your record for the rest of your life. However, a skilled DUI attorney with a deep grasp of Indiana law may convince the court to reduce your charges, reducing the time you must wait to expunge your record. []

Is It Possible to Reduce a Felony DUI to a Misdemeanor?

It is possible to get your felony DUI reduced to a misdemeanor in certain situations. However, there is no guarantee that you will succeed. A knowledgeable Indiana DUI attorney can evaluate your case and determine whether they can persuade the court to reduce your charges.

The best time to attempt to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor is before you are convicted. Your lawyer can argue for the court to reduce or dismiss your charges. For example, you may have an acceptable criminal defense for your DUI if you were arrested while under the effects of a prescribed controlled substance. If you were using the substance in accordance with your medical professional’s advice, the court may accept your defense and reduce or dismiss your charges. []

How Can a DUI Lawyer Help?

An Indiana DUI lawyer will first actively listen to your story. Then, they will answer your questions about your criminal defense, the legal process, and what you should expect. They can offer you a preliminary assessment of your case at this time.

Once you decide to proceed with your attorney, they will carefully review your case and meticulously analyze any aggravating factors. They will gather additional information to decide which defenses may be most beneficial for your case. At the same time, they will ensure all legal paperwork is filed promptly. They will advise you before court appearances and explain the significance of the hearing so that you are well-informed at each stage of the process.

Your Indiana DUI attorney will plead your case in court and advise you of your legal options. You will be in complete control of your legal choices, but your lawyer will be on-hand to answer your questions and advise you of the risks and benefits of each decision.

Contact the DUI lawyers at Stein Law

A DUI felony in Indiana is a serious charge that can have lifelong implications. If you or a loved one have recently been arrested for a felony DUI, you have limited time to respond. It is important to take action quickly before the court convicts you of a felony DUI.

Contact the experienced Indiana DUI lawyers at Stein Law today to work with a legal team you can trust.

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