Thousands of people are arrested in Indianapolis for driving under the influence of alcohol and other intoxicating substances. This is referred to as a DWI/DUI. If you or a loved one is arrested for drunk driving, it can be a life-changing event.
Following the arrest, your driver’s license can be automatically suspended if you refuse to take a blood alcohol test, even if you’re not convicted. In case you’re convicted, you’re potentially looking at one year of jail time and/or a $2,500 fine, and consequences may increase for subsequent offenses.
DWI/DUI charges should not be taken lightly. They can significantly affect your life for years to come. But before you stress yourself out, remember that you can only be punished if the prosecution successfully convicts you. It’s therefore in your best interest to make their job as challenging as possible.
Take the first steps towards this by hiring a knowledgeable and experienced Indianapolis DUI defense lawyer from Rathburn Law.
How Can an Indianapolis DUI Defense Lawyer at Rathburn Law Help Me?
As a United States citizen, there are certain rights you are guaranteed by the constitution. When arresting or prosecuting you for DUI, the state of Indiana should not in any way infringe upon these rights. However, state representatives will sometimes do, in an effort to secure a conviction.
When you get in touch with the DUI team at Rathburn Law, we will work to ensure that your rights are well protected and respected at every stage of the case. Whenever we spot a violation, we will raise the matter with the court immediately. The following are some of the other ways an Indianapolis DUI defense lawyer can help.
Avoid Jail Time
Based on the nature of judges brought against you and your criminal background, you might not be required to serve any additional time in jail.
Depending on the county where the DUI offense occurred, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and your criminal background, you might be eligible for pretrial diversion, which could result in a dismissal of the charges brought against you.
Special Driving Privileges
Your lawyer will also help you find out how long your license might be suspended and determine if you qualify for special driving privileges (hardship license) that may allow you to drive to school, work, medical appointments, church, and court hearings.
In case the law enforcement officers stopped you improperly, failed to comply with the various requirements when conducting a proper DUI investigation, or improperly obtained your blood or breath sample, a lawyer will help you challenge and even exclude all or part of the evidence brought against you at trial.
An experienced DUI lawyer will be better placed at negotiating with the prosecutor and the officers. They will also help you learn more about any potential plea bargains and how you could reduce the impact of a DUI charge on your career, finances, and life.
What Is the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) Limit in Indiana?
Indiana law explicitly prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit. This limit is 0.08 for most adults. Drivers under the age of 21 are however restricted to 0.02 BAC.
The traffic police in Indiana may use different strategies to establish the BAC level of a suspected driver. Most start the investigation by asking you to take a breathalyzer test. In case the breathalyzer shows that you might be intoxicated, the officer will ask you to take an additional chemical test.
If you drive on a public road in the state of Indiana, you are considered to have given consent for blood and urine tests to be performed on you in such situations. For this reason, if you refuse to take such a test, you might be subject to automatic license suspension.
What Penalties Can I Face for a DUI in Indiana?
In Indiana, the penalties given out for drunk driving convictions are usually dependent on the number of times you’ve been found guilty of the same offense in the past. the following are the penalties you can expect:
First DUI Offense
The first DUI offense in Indiana is classified as a Class C misdemeanor. If you’re convicted for such an offense, you are looking at up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. The state might also choose to suspend your license for between 90 days and 2 years.
A second DUI conviction within 5 years will be categorized as a Class D felony in Indiana. If you are found guilty of a second DUI, you may also be subject to up to $10,000 in fines and up to 3 years in prison. You might also lose your license for between 180 days and 2 years. Note that second-time offenders are sometimes ordered to complete 180 hours of community service aside from their other punishments.
In Indiana, being convicted for a third DUI is punishable as a Class D felony. If you are convicted for such an offense, you are looking at a fine not exceeding $10,000 and prison time not exceeding 3 years. The state may also choose to take away your license for between 1 year and 10 years.
Additionally, if you are found guilty of DUI the third time, you might be ordered to complete 360 hours of community service.
Indiana State has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. If you have been arrested for a fourth count of) operating while intoxicated (OWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), you could be facing serious charges. Get in touch with an experienced Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer at Rathburn Law as soon as possible.
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Indiana?
You can refuse the breathalyzer test so that the officer won’t have any hard evidence that you were driving while intoxicated. Even if this is the case, you might still face certain legal consequences.
Indiana law specifically says that if you refuse to take a chemical intoxication test, your license will be suspended for one year if it’s your first offense. If you have any prior OWI on your record, then your license may be suspended for two years.
You are entitled to a hearing in case your license is suspended for refusing to take a breathalyzer test. The hearing takes place within 20 days of your arrest.
Implied Consent Laws in Indiana
Although refusing the standard field sobriety test doesn’t lead to an automatic suspension of your license, refusing a chemical test will. Indiana has an implied consent law, which stipulates that all drivers on Indiana roads agree to take breath or blood tests when a police officer suspects that they are driving under the influence.
Refusing to take these tests will result in an automatic license suspension for one year. In case you have a previous DUI conviction, you might have your license revoked for 2 years. In addition, if you end up losing your license, you might also be unable to get a hardship license.
Aside from the fact that you will have your license suspended after refusing to take the test, you will most likely also have to submit to a breath or blood screening. The attending officer may apply for a search warrant, which allows them to forcibly test you. If this occurs, you may end up losing your license, not to mention that the court will also have evidence of your BAC level, which places you in the worst possible position.
What Is a Felony DUI in Indiana?
Recently, a man in Evansville found himself facing a level 6 felony DUI/OWI for drunk driving with his two-year-old daughter in the car. The man’s BAC measured 0.14%. he was arrested, taken to jail, and held without bond while their daughter was released to the custody of her mother.
While it’s true that most DUI charges in Indiana are classified as misdemeanors, there are certain cases where the charges bump to felony status. Below are some of the situations that you will most likely cause your DUI/OWI charge to become a felony:
- Drunk driving with a minor in the vehicle
- Injuring another person while drunk driving
- Having a previous DUI conviction within the previous five years.
It’s worth noting that it’s up to the state of Indiana to prove without a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of a DUI. If they are successful, a felony DUI charge means you automatically get jail time.
Here is how the penalties for felonies pan out in Indiana:
Level 6 Felony
This applies to situations like drunk driving with a minor in the car, having a previous DUI/OWI charge within the last 5 years, or causing an injury to a person. The punishment for a level 6 felony is 6 months to 2.5 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
Level 5 Felony
Includes injuring another person or causing their death, drunk driving, and having a prior OWI/DUI conviction in the last 5 years. It translates into 6 years of jail time and a fine not exceeding $10,000.
Level 4 Felony
Includes situations like killing someone while drunk driving with a suspended license, a prior DUI/OWI conviction within the last 10 years, or an exceedingly high BAC. The punishment is between 2 and 12 years in jail and fines not exceeding $10,000.
Keep in mind that if you end up causing multiple injuries while drunk driving, each of the injured persons will be treated as a separate charge. This means the penalties may increase significantly. Moreover, mandatory jail time only applies at the felony level.
Based on the specific circumstances surrounding your case, a felony DUI/OWI charge could lead to the loss of your job, child custody, or things like student aid benefits.
Common Defenses in DUI Cases
Drunk driving charges in Indiana don’t always have to result in convictions. With the help of an experienced DUI lawyer, these charges can be dropped or reduced. The following are some of the most effective DUI defense strategies:
In case the attending police officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop, your lawyer might be able to have your case dismissed.
If your lawyer can show you that the results of the chemical test were unreliable or inaccurate, they might be able to obtain the evidence and the entire case thrown out.
If a suspect being charged with drunk driving has a medical condition like diabetes, their lawyer can get the charges brought against them dismissed by demonstrating that the illness caused them to appear intoxicated – not the alcohol.
By working with an experienced OWI/DUI attorney at Rathburn Law, you can be assured that we will devise a bulletproof defense for you. All you have to do is give us a call and schedule a free consultation with us.
Talk to an Indianapolis DUI Defense Lawyer Today
Most DUI arrests come as a surprise. You might have been attending a party, a work function, or just having a good time at the bar with friends, and ended up having a couple of drinks, but not enough to feel intoxicated.
On your way home, a police officer pulls you over, and the next thing you know, they are asking you to step out of the car for a sobriety test. After this, you quickly find yourself being handcuffed and in the back of a police car. What should you do next?
If you or a loved one is facing the possibility of a DUI/OWI charge, one of the most important things you can do is talk to an experienced Indianapolis DUI defense lawyer. When you contact Rathburn Law, we’ll discuss your case with you and let you know what your options are.
We know that every situation is unique, and many different factors will be at play when dealing with your case. Our team understands how to account for these factors and establish the best course of action. We offer our initial consultations free of charge. Call us today at 317.671.8965 to learn more about how we can help.