While the summer season may be a time for barbeques and get-togethers, it is important to remember that there are some serious legal consequences for those who choose to drink alcohol at a summer party and then attempt to drive.
In fact, the State of Indiana takes impaired driving very seriously - and anyone who violates the law may face potential charges.
Indiana law forbids operating a vehicle while intoxicated
Every state has its own rules in place about impaired driving. In Indiana, these offenses are more commonly referred to as OWIs, or "Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated."
The penalties for OWIs can vary a great deal depending on the circumstances. For instance, a first-time offender with a blood-alcohol-concentration (BAC) or more than .08 percent, but less than .15 percent, will likely face a Class C misdemeanor. The punishment for this offense may include the following:
- Jail time of up to 60 days, which increases to one year if the driver has a BAC of at least .15 percent
- Fines of up to $500, or up to $5,000 if the driver has a BAC of at least .15 percent
- A license suspension
The offender may also face a Class A Misdemeanor if there are allegations of operating in a manner that endangers a person. However, these penalties can increase significantly when other factors are present, including minors in the car. In fact, Indiana law states that a driver who is at least 21-years-old will likely face a Level 6 felony if they have a passenger who is under the age of 18.
Similarly, repeat offenders also face more serious penalties. For instance, a second OWI offense within five years of the first is a Level 6 felony. But, if the prior OWI conviction involved the death or serious bodily injury of another, the second offense is increased to a Level 5 felony, even if no one was injured during the commission of the second offense.
It is important to remember, however, that this is just a small sampling of the many types of alcohol-related driving offenses in Indiana. Given the complexity of these laws, it is crucial to contact experienced legal counsel should you have questions.
It is possible to defend against OWI charges
Many people facing OWI offenses in Indiana choose to plead guilty immediately to avoid court. These people may think that a trial will lead to public embarrassment, and they may wish to simply speed up the process and get on with their lives. However, the consequences of a conviction or guilty plea could haunt you for years to come. You could lose your job or suffer social setbacks due to your inability to drive.
There are many circumstances in which it may be possible to defend against OWI charges. Certain medical conditions, along with inadequate calibration or training for roadside sobriety testing could lead to unfounded criminal charges. You should seek an experienced attorney to review the details of your situation to see what kind of defense is possible for you.