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 the state.
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 intoxicated by:
- Hallucinogenic drugs
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:
- Having at least one passenger under the age of 18 in the car during the OWI
- Being convicted of a second OWI within five years of the first
- The OWI causes bodily harm to another person
- The 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.