The charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, known as OWI or OVWI, comes in many forms. If you’ve been charged with this offense, you need to know the specific details of what you are accused of.
Regardless of the OWI charges you face, don’t neglect your right to put up a strong defense. You have options, which the Indianapolis OWI defense law firm of Rathburn Law Office is here to explore with you.
Here, we take a look at the different types of OWI criminal cases in Indiana. You can contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation.
Base Level OWI Charge
This is charged for driving with a BAC of 0.08 to 0.14 or under the influence of drugs. Law enforcement will charge the suspect with the base level OWI charge, a Class C misdemeanor. This is the lowest criminal charge in Indiana. Among the potential penalties are a fine of up to $500 and a jail sentence of 0-60 days.
OWI Endangering a Person or with a BAC of 0.15 or Higher
Either of these can result in an elevated charge of a Class A misdemeanor. Endangerment requires evidence of something more than mere intoxication. But in many cases, the prosecution can meet this threshold. For example, there may be evidence that the defendant’s driving endangered someone.
Such evidence could include:
- Swerving across the center yellow line
- Hitting a curb during a turn
- Following a vehicle too closely
OWI with a Prior Conviction, with a Child Under Age 18, or Resulting in Bodily Injury
This category includes three distinct OWI offenses:
- OWI with a prior conviction within the previous seven years.
- OWI that results in serious bodily injury to a victim.
- OWI while a child under the age of 18 is in the vehicle.
These three charges will land a suspect with a Level 6 Felony charge. Penalties include a possible fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 2.5 years.
In the case of having a prior OWI conviction, the driver’s license will be suspended for a year. There will also be a mandatory five-day jail sentence. If there were two prior OWIs, the license suspension is for 730 days and the jail sentence is ten days.
A Level 6 Felony is also possible if the driver had a passenger in the vehicle under the age of 18. The same is true if the OWI results in serious bodily injury. Such injury may include severe pain, unconsciousness, disfigurement, and loss of an unborn child.
OWI Resulting in Death
If an OWI causes a death, the suspect will be charged with a Level 5 Felony. But this will be raised to a more serious Level 4 Felony if either of the following is true:
- The driver’s BAC is 0.15 or more.
- The driver has a prior OWI conviction.
Penalties for a Level 5 Felony include a fine up to $10,000 and a one- to six-year jail sentence. Penalties for a Level 4 include a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail sentence of between two and six years.
Charged With an OWI? Time to Explore Your Legal Options.
Any kind of OWI is a serious matter. Your freedom, finances, and ability to earn a living could all be in jeopardy. But you do have legal options.
You may be able to challenge the prosecution’s evidence or even ask for charges to be dismissed. It may be possible to negotiate a plea bargain which can lessen the severity of the legal consequences.
If you’ve been charged with an OWI, call Rathburn Law Office.