Indiana has very strict laws on the operation of vehicles when under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. The state generally classifies Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges as “Operating While Intoxicated” (OWI) charges. The penalties for OWI charges in Indiana are pretty serious. If you are arrested for operating while intoxicated in the state, you can either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony charge. Both of these charges carry serious penalties including license suspension, hefty fines, and/or jail time.
If you have been arrested for OWI, it is important to contact a skilled and seasoned IUPUI Felony DUI Defense Lawyer without delay. A lawyer will help you come up with a formidable defense that can help lower the charges you are facing or even get your OWI charge dismissed. A skilled lawyer will explore defense options such as the lack of probable cause by the arresting officers, the failure by the arresting officers to administer a field sobriety test, and unreliable testimony by the police.
It is important to note that there are many defenses that you can use if you have been arrested for an OWI. After reviewing the facts surrounding your case, your lawyer will determine the best defense to apply in your case. If you are looking for a quality defense, it is important that you hire a reliable and experienced lawyer who understands Indiana OWI laws and how to navigate through the Indiana justice system. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Indiana, your best bet to being let off the hook (probation) or getting lighter charges is to call the highly skilled DUI lawyers at the Rathburn Law Office. After calling us at 317.671.8965, we will review your case and determine the best defense to apply in your case.
Before we explore DWI felony charges in Indiana, remember that we mentioned that you can either be charged your case can either be classified as a misdemeanor or felony. The penalties for a misdemeanor charge are usually less serious than those of a felony charge.
Your case will be classified as a misdemeanor if you do not have any prior DWI charges or convictions under your belt.
Your DWI case can be enhanced to a felony charge if you are arrested while operating under the influence and the following circumstances are applicable to your case:
- It is not your first DUI charge
- You severely injured another individual
- You drive under the influence with a minor in the car
- You killed another person
- You caused severe property damage
- You ran away from the scene of the accident
- You had a prior OWI charge under your belt within the last seven years
Note that Indiana prohibits drivers from operating vehicles if:
- They have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of over .08
- They have consumed controlled schedule I or II controlled substances such as marijuana, methamphetamine, or opiates
- They are actually intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
The state also has a zero-tolerance law that prohibits drivers who are under 21 years from driving if they have a BAC of over .02.
What is Considered a Felony DUI in Indiana?
As we have mentioned above, a DUI misdemeanor charge becomes a felony if:
- You have a prior DUI conviction within the last seven years
- You severely injure another person
- You cause severe property damage
- You drive and cause the death of another individual
- You drive while under the influence with a minor in the car
In Indiana, felony OWI charges are graduated into different levels. Different felony classifications attract different penalties.
Here is a list of felony OWI charges in Indiana, the reasons you can be charged with each felony, and, the penalties attracted by each type of felony charge…
Level 6 Felony
You can be arraigned for a level 6 felony if:
- You have a prior DWI/DUI/OWI charge conviction within the last seven years
- You have been previously convicted for 2 DUIs in the past 10 years
- You operate a vehicle while intoxicated while carrying at least one minor in your car
- You severely injure a person
- You cause the death of an animal used by law enforcement authorities
If you are convicted of level 6 DUI charges you can be jailed for between 6 months to 2.5 years and fined up to $10,000.
Level 5 Felony
You can be charged with a level 5 OWI if:
- You cause the death of another individual
- You were convicted of a previous OWI charge in the past seven years in an incident that caused serious bodily harm to another individual or led the death of another individual
- You were convicted of operating under the influence in the last seven years in a case involving serious injuries to another individual, and, your current case does not involve injuries or death to other people
The penalty for a level 5 felony in Indiana is usually between 1 to 6 years in jail or a fine of up to $10,000.
Level 4 Felony
You can be charged with a level 4 felony if:
- You were arraigned for another DUI in the past 10 years
- You were driving with a suspended license
- You are considered a habitual traffic laws violator
- Your BAC was measured and found to be above 0.015%
The penalties for a level 4 felony OWI charge may include:
- The suspension of your driving license
- Serving a jail term of between 2 to 12 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Mandatory participation in a drug rehabilitation program
NOTE: If you killed several people, under a level 4 felony charge, each death with be treated as an individual offense. This means that if you killed several people, you can be charged with multiple level felony death charges simultaneously for just one incident and your penalties will add up.
What is a Habitual Felony DWI Charge in Indiana?
A habitual felony DWI charge refers to an extra charge that can be tacked onto your existing OWI charge at the discretion of the prosecution.
The prosecution can add a habitual DWI charge if you are arrested for operating while intoxicated for at least the third time. A habitual DWI charge usually attracts a mandatory penalty that ranges from one to eight years in jail.
What Other Felony DUI Charges Can I Be Charged with in Indiana?
Depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your case, you can also be charged with the following felony DUI charges in Indiana …
Felony Death by Vehicle
You can be charged with felony death by vehicle charge if you drive under the influence and cause the death of another individual and based on your records, your case qualifies for classification as a felony OWI.
Misdemeanor Death by Vehicle
You can be charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle if you have no prior DUI convictions and you unintentionally caused the death of another individual in your current DUI case. The ‘unintentional’ part may apply if the death occurred as a result of or in addition to other circumstances beyond your control.
Felony Serious Injury by Vehicle
You can be charged with a felony serious injury by vehicle if you cause serious injuries to another individual while driving under the influence and your case meets the criteria for classification as a felony DUI charge.
Aggravated Felony Death by Automobile
You can be arraigned for this felony charge if in addition to driving under the influence you acted negligently while driving and as a result, another person dies.
Aggravated Felony Serious Injury by Automobile
You can be arraigned for this type of felony if in addition to driving while intoxicated you did some other negligent actions and as a result, another person sustains grievous injuries.
Have You Been Arrested for A DUI in Indiana? Contact An IUPUI Felony DUI Defense Lawyer
The State of Indiana levies serious penalties on drivers who go against the set DUI laws. Apart from the risk of being slapped with jail time, hefty fines, and losing your license, a DUI charge usually shows up on public records – and, this can affect your future employment prospects.
With a skilled lawyer handling your defense, you can fight off your Indiana OWI charge and likely get a lighter sentence such as probation. Given that each DUI case is unique, it is important that you hire a lawyer who has successfully handled many DUI cases in the past. Such a lawyer will review your case and records and then help you determine the best defense tactics and arguments to explore in your case.
We strongly recommend that you contact the Rathburn Law Office immediately after you are arrested for a DUI in Indiana. Don’t talk to the police or anybody else unless your lawyer is present. This is because whatever you unwittingly say might eventually be used against you in court.
At the Rathburn Law Office, we have an in-depth understanding of the Indiana justice system and the applicable DUI laws given that we have been dealing with DUI/DWI cases for the past 25 years. We will listen to the facts surrounding your case and help you come up with a defense strategy that will give you the best outcome in your DUI case. To protect your rights and increase your chances of getting a lighter charge and penalty, call us immediately after you are arrested for a DUI/DWI/OWI in Indiana on 317.671.8965.