The state of Indiana uses the term “operating a vehicle under the influence” (OWI) rather than DUI to describe the charge assessed against those individuals who are found to be driving impaired by alcohol or drugs. Indiana laws stipulate that it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or greater. Stricter laws apply to minors and commercial drivers. Minor drivers under the age of 21 with a BAC of .02 percent or greater and commercial drivers with a BAC of .04 percent or greater are considered OWI.
Indiana has an implied consent law, which authorizes police to subject suspected drivers of OWI to chemical blood, breath, or urine tests for drugs and alcohol. Individuals who refuse to consent to the test are subjected to fines and automatic suspensions of their driver’s licenses. First refusals are penalized by a one-year suspension. Second refusals are subjected to a two-year suspension and five days of prison time. Third refusals are subjected to a two-year suspension and 10 days of prison time.
First Offense DUI Penalties
A first OWI offense is considered a Class C misdemeanor that is punishable by prison time, a fine, and a license suspension for up to two years as well as court fees of at least $300 and probation for up to two years. A suspension of one’s driver’s license may be for a minimum of 30 days followed by a probationary period during which the driver is restricted to driving only back and forth to work. If a convicted driver has a BAC of less than .15 percent, a fine less than $500 and a prison sentence of fewer than 60 days may be imposed. If a driver has a BAC of .15 percent or above, a fine less than $5,000 and a prison sentence of less than one year may be imposed.
Second Offense DUI Penalties
A second OWI offense is considered a Class D felony that is punishable by between five days and years of prison time and a fine of less than $10,000 as well as a license suspension for between 180 days and two years. Probation may also be imposed for up to two years.
Third Offense DUI Penalties
A third OWI offense is considered a Class D felony that is punishable by between 10 days and three years of prison time, a fine of less than $10,000, and a license suspension for between one and 10 years as well as probation for up to two years. In addition, a driver may be labeled a habitual traffic violator, which carries additional penalties of between one and eight years of prison time for any subsequent violations.
Indiana has a 10-year lookback period for which previous offenses are taken into consideration when determining penalties. Other possible penalties include the installation of an ignition interlock device, community service, and attendance at a victim impact panel. Substance abuse education may also be imposed and provided at the convicted driver’s expense. Convicted drivers may also be required to submit to further chemical testing for drugs and alcohol.