In Indiana, what counts as a felony DUI? Everyone must have read or seen an ad that warns against driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, beyond the medical side effects of excessive alcohol consumption, drunk drivers pose a danger to other road users. For this reason, most states in the U.S., including Indiana, treat driving under the influence (DUI) as a criminal offense.
In Indiana, the law classifies a DUI offense as a misdemeanor or felony. The latter is a more severe offense and carries more stringent punishments. A felony conviction has the power to derail your life and take away your freedom for some years.
So, it is crucial that you understand what a felony DUI is and the punishments that wait for you if found guilty of one. Our DUI attorneys will attempt to shed light on this all-important offense and provide possible defenses to it. So, if you get arrested for driving under the influence, contact an Indianapolis DUI lawyer immediately.
What Is a Felony DUI Under Indiana Law?
Generally, when you get arrested for driving under the influence for the first time, you will face a misdemeanor DUI charge. However, a first offense can become a felony charge if one of the following happens:
- You severely injured or killed someone
- There was a minor in the vehicle with you
- You have had a conviction for operating while intoxicated (OWI) within the last five years.
As mentioned earlier, felony DUI has more stringent penalties than a misdemeanor. For the latter, you can pay a fine of up to $5,000 or 365 days imprisonment. If convicted of a felony DUI, the punishment you’ll get depends on the felony level you’re charged with.
Level 6 Felony
You will get charged with this offense if you:
- Drive while impaired with at least one minor in the vehicle;
- Have a prior OWI/DUI within the last five years;
- Caused severe injury to a person; or
- Caused the death of a law enforcement animal.
The penalty for a level 6 felony is six months to 2.5 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Level 5 Felony
You’ll face a level 5 felony charge if you:
- Caused the death of another person
- Have a previous conviction for DUI within the last five years that caused severe bodily harm or death of another person
- Got convicted for a DUI involving severe bodily harm within the last five years, and the current charge involves severe injuries to another.
The penalty for this offense is one to six years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Level 4 Felony
You will face a level 4 felony charge if you cause another person’s death in addition to the following:
- You have had a prior DUI within the last ten years.
- You had a suspended license for a prior DUI or for being a habitual traffic offender.
- You had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15% or more.
The penalty for this offense is two to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. In addition to the punishment for the above offenses, the court will suspend your driver’s license. The court will also order that you participate in a drug/alcohol rehabilitation program. Furthermore, if you killed multiple people, each dead person would be treated as a different offense, and you’ll face multiple felony DUI charges for one incident.
Can Your DUI Lawyer in Indianapolis Get You a Reduced Sentence?
The simple answer is yes. Like in all criminal cases, plea bargaining is allowed when facing a DUI charge. However, it means that you’ll plead guilty to the charge(s) against you. Taking a plea bargain is advisable when there’s overwhelming evidence against you.
Conversely, if the prosecution does not have enough evidence, your lawyer can put up a defense. The following are the possible defenses your DUI attorney can put up:
- Improper stop by the police, especially when they don’t have probable cause
- Failure to appropriately administer field sobriety tests
- Poor maintenance of blood samples
- False-positive breathalyzer test
- Lack of probable cause of arrest
- Violation of Miranda rights
- Illegal search and seizure
- Inconsistent and unreliable testimony by the police
Rathburn Law Office DUI Attorneys in Indianapolis Can Represent You!
You can defend a DUI charge and get a reduced sentence if you work with an experienced DUI attorney. At Rathburn Law Office, we have the training and experience needed to win a DUI case and will bring this experience to bear on your case. We will fiercely champion your case in and out of the courtroom. So, call us today to schedule a free consultation.