The state of Indiana imposes strict penalties for drunk driving, which gradually increase in severity based on prior convictions. In the event that you are arrested and charged with a DUI in IUPUI, IN, you need to act quickly to avoid or minimize the consequences of a conviction. The possibility of facing jail time, incurring heavy fines, having your license suspended or revoked, and jeopardizing your education and career opportunities can be very scary. If you’ve found yourself in this predicament, your best move is to hire an experienced IUPUI DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.
DUI charges do not always result in a conviction. And ensuring that you have the best legal defense is the first and most important step towards achieving this goal. A good DUI defense attorney will make it much harder for the prosecutor to successfully convict you by poking holes in their arguments and discrediting the evidence against you.
At Rathburn Law, we have a team of highly trained DUI defense attorneys with over 25 years of experience helping clients fight DUI charges. In addition, Charles Rathburn is a nationally recognized DUI expert and a certified phlebotomist. Call us today at 317.671.8965 to protect your rights, freedom, and future.
What Is the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) Limit in Indiana?
In the state of Indiana, it is illegal for adult drivers (21 years and above) to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more. For drivers below 21 years, the legal BAC limit is 0.02.
It is illegal for drivers of commercial vehicles to do so with a BAC of 0.04 or above.
Even if you are not impaired, you will be hit with a DUI charge as long as your BAC is above the legal limit.
What Penalties Can I Face for a DUI in Indiana?
The types of penalties issued for a drunk driving conviction will vary depending on the presence and number of previous convictions.
In the state of Indiana, a first-time drunk driving offense is classified as a Class C misdemeanor. If convicted of this offense, you could expect a jail term of up to 60 days, and a fine not exceeding $500. Your driver’s license may also be suspended for between 90 days and two years. A first-time DUI conviction will go on your permanent record.
In the state of Indiana, a second-time DUI offense is classified as a Class D misdemeanor. If you are convicted for the second time, you can be hit with penalties such as a prison sentence of up to 3 years and a fine not exceeding $10,000. You can also face a license suspension of between 180 days and 2 years.
You can also be ordered to complete 180 hours of community service.
A third-DUI offense in Indiana is tried as a Class D felony. If you are convicted of committing a third DUI, you can face a prison sentence of up to 3 years and a fine not exceeding $10,000. Your license may also be suspended for between 1 and 10 years.
Additionally, you may be ordered to complete 360 hours of community service.
It is important to note that the presence of certain issues in your case will lead to additional charges or more severe penalties with or without prior convictions. These include:
Having a BAC of 0.15 or higher
If you’ve been arrested with a BAC of 0.15% or higher, you can face additional prison time, heftier fines, and additional community service hours than a regular offender. If it’s your third DUI offense, having a BAC of 0.15 or greater can add 90 days of prison time and $2,500 of fines.
Injuries and death
In the unfortunate event that you cause serious bodily injury or death to another, your case will be tried as a felony.
If you cause serious bodily injury to another with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, you can face a prison sentence ranging from 6 months to three years, a fine not exceeding $10,000, and a driver’s license suspension of between two and five years. If you have a previous DUI conviction within the last five years, you can face a prison term of between two and eight years.
If you cause the death of another with a BAC of 0.08 and above, you can face between two and eight years in prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000. If you have a prior DUI conviction within the last five years, you can face between 6 and 20 years in prison.
Having a child on-board
If you are arrested for committing a DUI offense while with a minor (an individual below 16 years old), your case will be bumped up to a felony even if it is your first offense. This will lead to more serious penalties if convicted.
If you commit a traffic violation while drunk driving, for instance, driving above the legal speed limit, you can face more serious penalties.
In addition to the above-named penalties, people convicted of a DUI can also face other consequences such as
Ignition interlock device
In Indiana, after the first DUI conviction, courts are mandated to order the offender to install an ignition interlock device for any subsequent convictions. The offender is also required to cover the costs of installing and maintaining the device.
Tampering with the device is classified as a misdemeanor offense. Choosing to drive without this device is a high-class misdemeanor.
Substance abuse counseling and treatment
After a second-DUI conviction, any subsequent convictions will result in you being ordered to undergo a professional evaluation for substance abuse problems. Depending on the results, the judge may order substance abuse counseling and treatment.
If convicted of a DUI, you may be required to pay the following fees:
- Court fees
- Counseling and treatment fees
- Ignition interlock device associated fees
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Indiana?
In the event that you are stopped by a police officer on suspicion of drunk driving, they are required to establish probable cause that your BAC is above the allowed limit. To do this, they utilize two methods to gather evidence: administering a field sobriety test and a chemical test.
In the case of field sobriety tests, you can choose to refuse without facing any legal consequences.
A breathalyzer test, on the other hand, is a type of chemical test, and under Indiana law, you are required to submit to this test. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test carries legal consequences. An initial refusal results in the immediate suspension of your license for one year, which stands whether you are convicted of the offense or not. Any subsequent refusal results in a driver’s license suspension of two years.
Upon refusal, the police officer will immediately confiscate your license and you may still be put under arrest. Your refusal can be used as admissible evidence in court. Additionally, the police officer may obtain a court warrant to administer a chemical test with or without your consent.
However, it is important to note that the arresting police officer must have had reasonable cause to stop your car in the first place. This can be anything from driving too slowly to be considered normal, swerving between lanes, running a red light, and so on.
Also, when it comes to administering a test, they are required to follow some strict rules and procedures. For instance, they are required to explain to you in detail the consequences of refusing to take the test and the test should be taken within three hours of finding probable cause.
Implied consent laws in Indiana
In the state of Indiana, once you obtain a driver’s license and operate a vehicle on an Indiana road, you implicitly consent to chemical testing which includes breath, blood, and urine testing. This is even if you have a driver’s license from another state.
Under Indiana’s implied consent law, a police officer with sufficient reason to believe that you are intoxicated can ask you to take a chemical test to determine whether your BAC is within legal limits. Refusing to submit to this test is a violation of Indiana’s implied consent law and forms grounds for an arrest.
Refusing to submit to a chemical test results in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of one year. In case you have a prior conviction, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for a minimum of two years.
Refusing a test also disqualifies you from obtaining a hardship license
What Is a Felony DUI in Indiana?
DUIs are a serious criminal offense in almost all states. In Indiana, a DUI can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, with a felony DUI being the more serious offense and carrying more severe penalties.
While a first-DUI offense is typically charged as a misdemeanor, the presence of the following factors will cause it to be bumped up to a felony:
- Serious bodily injury or death to another
- Committing a DUI offense while with a minor in the vehicle
The presence of the following factors can lead to a level 6 felony DUI
- Having two prior DUI convictions
- Causing the death of a law enforcement animal with a BAC of 0.08 or greater
- Committing a DUI offense while with a minor, along with any of the following:
- Having a BAC of 0.15 and above
- Driving in a manner that endangers a person
- Operating a vehicle with a specified Schedule I or II controlled substance
The penalties for a felony DUI are more severe than those for a misdemeanor. These include:
- A prison sentence of up to 2.5 years for a level 6 felony DUI
- Longer probation period
- Heftier fines
- Court-mandated alcohol/drug rehabilitation programs
- Driver’s license suspension
Common Defenses in DUI cases
Considering all the serious legal penalties and future consequences that you may face in the event of a DUI conviction, you may be wondering what your chances are of getting the charge dismissed. Fortunately, a keen-eyed and highly-skilled attorney can get you off the hook even if you are guilty of the crime. Depending on the specific details of your case, here are some of the defense strategies that they may use to get your case dismissed:
Lack of probable cause for the stop
The law dictates that a police officer must have reasonable suspicion in order to pull you over. A condition must exist for them to initiate a stop. For instance, you were swerving in and out of lanes, ran a red light at an intersection, or were driving at night without your headlights on. A police officer cannot stop you on the assumption that you are drunk driving just because they saw you coming from the direction of a bar.
Your attorney will assess the circumstances of your stop and subsequent arrest to determine whether the due procedure was followed. In addition to having reasonable suspicion to stop you, the police officer should also have probable cause to arrest you. If they don’t have sufficient evidence that you are legally intoxicated, they can’t arrest you.
Challenging the accuracy of tests (breathalyzer etc.)
There are a lot of rules and procedures surrounding the administering of chemical tests. For instance, the police officer is required to explain to you the consequences of refusing to submit to a test and give you a second chance upon initial refusal. Also, the test must be conducted within three of stopping you.
In the case of blood testing, only a trained and licensed professional can collect, analyze, and store the DUI suspect’s blood samples. Also, the blood samples should be correctly labeled and stored within the right conditions. If this doesn’t happen the results from the blood test can be dismissed.
For the breathalyzer test, there are various issues that can arise. For instance, the police officer is required to observe the DUI suspect for 15 minutes before administering the test. Also, the
breathalyzer can produce false results due to a medical condition or oral product used by the suspect. Poor calibration and maintenance can also lead to false results.
An attorney will dig deep to determine whether the tests were carried out correctly and the results are accurate.
How Can an IUPUI DUI Defense Lawyer Help Me?
An experienced IUPUI DUI defense attorney offers you the best chance of having your case dismissed or your charges and penalties reduced. Here are some of the key things an attorney will do:
Asserting your constitutional rights
From your arrest, prosecution, and sentencing, you have certain legal rights under the Constitution. However, these rights are often violated by state agencies as they seek to secure a conviction. An attorney will help ensure that your rights are protected and that you are not treated fairly.
In some cases, agreeing to a plea bargain might be the best option for you. This is where there is a lot of evidence against you. A skilled attorney can help negotiate the best deal for you, successfully reducing the severity or number of your charges. They can also convince the prosecutor to drop the charges.
If your attorney believes that you have a better chance in court, they will prepare you and your case for trial. They will offer you all the legal advice and guidance you need during the process. Our attorneys are able to present facts and arguments in a clear and compelling manner before a judge and jury.
An Experienced IUPUI DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help!
Facing a DUI charge in the state of Indiana is a very serious matter. Not only are you at risk of losing your freedom, ability to drive, and incurring hefty fines, a conviction can completely disrupt your life by affecting your current and future employment opportunities. If you are a student, a conviction can disrupt your education. Given everything that is at stake, you should never attempt to fight a claim on your own. Getting an attorney is your best and smartest move when in such a situation.
At Rathburn Law, we have decades of experience helping people charged with a DUI secure their rights, freedom, and future. We can do the same for you. Give us a call today at 317.671.8965 for the best legal representation.