One of the first questions our clients ask us is whether they’re going to jail if they’re convicted of DUI. Many of our clients have never been in trouble with the law. It isn’t until they’re put in a holding cell that things get real. This can be very scary if you’ve never been arrested before. Our Indianapolis DUI lawyers will do their best to get your charges reduced or dismissed. However, if you’ve been convicted of DUI before, it’ll be very difficult to make this happen.
Here, we’ll discuss what can happen if you’re convicted of DUI in Indiana. Depending on whether it’s your first offense, you could be facing fines, a suspension of your driver’s license, and possible jail time. it all depends on the facts surrounding your case. If you’re worried that you could be facing a lengthy jail sentence, it’s a good idea to contact one of our criminal defense lawyers in Indiana.
It Really Depends on Whether It’s Your First Offense
One of the biggest factors that will impact your sentence is your criminal history. If you have prior convictions for DUI on your record, the penalties for DUI are much more severe. For example, if you’re convicted for the third time within ten years, you could be facing as much as 3 years in jail. While the judge may have discretion, the fact that you have been charged and convicted of drunk driving three times doesn’t bode well.
Now, if this is your first offense, any jail sentence the judge imposes will be minimal. For example, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was slightly above the legal limit of .08, the judge may be willing to order probation in lieu of jail. Another situation in which the judge may use their discretion is if it’s your second DUI offense, but it’s been six or seven years since your last conviction. They may sentence you to the minimal jail sentence under the law rather than impose the full sentence of 3 years. This is where it’s important to have an Indianapolis DUI lawyer by your side. They can work with the prosecutor to get the lowest jail term possible.
Your Indianapolis DUI Lawyer Will Try to Get the Charges Dismissed
Ideally, your criminal defense lawyer in Indiana will get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. There are a variety of ways in which this can happen. Some of these include:
- Your Indianapolis DUI lawyer was able to prove that the initial traffic stop was unlawful. Keep in mind that this is rare. All the police need to pull you over is a reasonable suspicion that you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is nearly impossible to prove that they could not have conceived of the idea that you were impaired.
- Your lawyer submits evidence showing that the field sobriety test was improperly administered
- The State lacks enough evidence to prove that you were intoxicated at the time of the arrest
- Your criminal defense lawyer in Indiana has proof that you were not intoxicated at the time of the arrest. For example, imagine that you refused the breathalyzer. You knew that you weren’t drunk because you hadn’t had a drink all day. The State’s only evidence is the police officer’s statement that you appeared to be impaired at the time of the traffic stop. If your attorney can submit specific proof showing that you were not drinking prior to getting behind the wheel, the State may have to drop the charges.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are a host of different ways in which your lawyer can demonstrate that you weren’t guilty of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, as required by Indiana criminal law section 9-30-5.
There is a Chance Your Criminal Defense Lawyer in Indiana Will Arrange for a Plea Deal
Even if there is some proof that you may have been intoxicated at the time of your arrest, your Indianapolis DUI lawyer will still try to negotiate a plea deal. One of the best things about having an attorney is that the prosecutor will typically discuss your case with your lawyer. When a defendant is pro se, they may never get the opportunity to speak with the prosecutor. This means they won’t have a chance to negotiate a plea deal.
It may not seem fair, but the prosecutor makes attorney cases a priority. The only chance a defendant gets to meet with the prosecutor is in the few minutes prior to their court hearing. The prosecutor typically sits in a small office outside the courtroom. In the hour before the judge takes the bench, the prosecutor will meet with defense attorneys to discuss plea deals. The way it works is that all attorneys who have a client on that day’s docket get to see the prosecutor first. Only if there’s extra time will a pro se defendant get a chance to talk to the prosecutor.
If You Are Convicted, You Will Face Possible Jail Time
Per the criminal laws in Indiana, anybody convicted of DUI (or OWI as the law refers to it) will face possible jail time. Obviously, the higher-level offenses will face a longer sentence than the lesser offenses. Here is a short breakdown of the penalties associated with DUI in Indiana:
- 1st Offense: Class C Misdemeanor
- 30 days to 60 days in jail
- Fines anywhere from $500 to $5,000
- Driver’s license suspension for up to 2 years
- 2nd Offense: Class D Misdemeanor
- Minimum of 5 days in jail with possible sentence of up to 3 years
- Fines of up to $10,000
- All the other penalties associated with a 1st DUI
- 3rd Offense: Habitual Offender
- Minimum of 20 days in jail must be served
- Possible jail sentence of 3 years
- Fines of up to $10,000
- 2 years’ probation
- All other penalties associated with 1st DUI
You Should Reach Out to a Seasoned Criminal Defense Lawyer in Indiana
If you’re facing charges of DUI, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Indiana. Even if this is the first time you’ve been in any sort of legal trouble, you could be facing jail time. Your best chances of avoiding this is to hire an Indianapolis DUI lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases. With so much at stake, it’s worth every dime to have a seasoned attorney by your side.