Indiana penalizes the act of driving a vehicle under the
influence of drugs or alcohol. Instead of using the common abbreviation of DUI
as in many states, Indiana uses OWI or Operating While Intoxicated.
This crime applies to drivers of all ages who operate motor
vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It carries with it
penalties like jail terms, monetary fines, and loss of driving privileges in
OWI in Indiana
The per se law for OWI in Indiana is having a blood alcohol
content or BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. Drivers can be arrested for having a
BAC of this level or higher if they drive any kind of motor vehicle while
The OWI law in Indiana also extends to driving while
intoxicated by prescription or certain over-the-counter medications like cough
syrup, anxiety medications or stronger pain relievers.
The per se definition applies to drivers age 21 and older
who drive privately owned vehicles. The state also has a zero-tolerance law for
underage drivers under the age of 21. They can be arrested for OWI if their
BACs or 0.02 percent or higher.
Commercial drivers are held to a different OWI standard in
the state. They must have BACs of 0.04 or lower to avoid being arrested for and
charged with this offense.
Drivers whose BACs are 0.15 percent or higher can be charged
with an aggravated DUI. This charge is a Class A misdemeanor and carries with
it higher penalties than those used for punishing standard OWIs in Indiana.
OWI Penalties in Indiana
The OWI penalties in Indiana vary according to the number of offenses a person has on his or her driving record. They also reflect the amount of damage or risk to the public when the crime occurred.
First, second, and third OWIs in Indiana generally garner a
jail term of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500. Offenders also can be
sentenced to using an ignition interlock device or IID for six months to a
year. Their drivers’ licenses can also be suspended for 60 days to one year
depending on the number of prior OWI convictions on their record.
People whose BACs are higher than 0.16 percent at the time
of their arrests are charged with a Class A misdemeanor and face more rigorous
sentencing. They can pay fines of up to $5000 and serve up to one year in jail.
They also can be ordered to use an IID for up to one year on their vehicles.
Under some circumstances, people arrested for OWI can be
charged with a Level 6 felony. The criteria for this offense include:
at least one passenger under the age of 18 in the car during the OWI
convicted of a second OWI within five years of the first
OWI causes bodily harm to another person
OWI causes harm to a law enforcement animal
The sentences for a Felony 6 OWI include jail terms of six
months to 2.5 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Underage OWI in Indiana
Drivers in Indiana who are under the age of 21 can be
arrested for OWI if their BACs are 0.02 percent or higher. The standard
punishment for an underage OWI is 180 days in jail for a failed test and one
year in jail for refusing to take a chemical test.
Underage drivers can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor
if their BACs was at least 0.08 or higher but under 0.15 percent. They can also
be charged with this type of misdemeanor if a schedule I or II substance was
present in their blood during the time of their arrest.
A Class C misdemeanor garners a punishment of at least 60
days in jail. Drivers can also be given a $500 fine to pay.
If underage drivers’ BAC is higher than 0.15 percent, they
can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This charge also applies to driving
while intoxicated and endangering the life of one or more person. It carries
with it a fine of $5000 and a one-year jail term.
Underage drivers’ licenses can also be suspended for one
year if they are convicted of a Class C traffic infraction or a Class A
misdemeanor for OWI. They can lose their licenses for up to 60 days for a
conviction of a Class C misdemeanor OWI.
Implied Consent in Indiana
Indiana uses implied consent laws to compel motorists to
comply with chemical testing after their OWI arrests. Any motorist driving a
commercial or privately owned motor vehicle must by law provide a breath or
blood sample to determine their BAC after their arrest.
Motorists who refuse to comply and have no prior OWI arrest
or conviction on their record can lose their drivers’ licenses for up to one
year. A second refusal or a refusal with at least one prior OWI on one’s record
can result in a loss of driving privileges for up to two years.
In Indiana, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
is called Operating While Intoxicated or OWI. The penalties for this crime are
similar to those used in other states for DUI.
Drivers convicted of this offense in Indiana face going to
jail for months or years, paying heavy fines and losing their drivers’ licenses
and being ordered to use IIDs. These penalties apply to drivers who are under
the age of 21 as well.