An Indiana man was charged with violating the stay-at-home order imposed because of the quarantine after hitting three parked cars under the influence of alcohol. 23-year-old James T. Houchens was charged with one count of OWI, one county of OWI endangering another person, and one count of disobeying a disaster emergency (the coronavirus law).
All states have some laws on the books regarding declarations of disaster emergency, also known as quarantine laws. Since the coronavirus has been declared a national emergency, many states have invoked these laws to enforce social distancing and help slow the spread of the virus.
Simple OWI for a first-time offense is considered a Class-C misdemeanor. Assuming Houchens does not have any priors for OWI, he would be facing a maximum of 60 days in jail, along with substantial fines and administrative penalties related to his driver’s license and driving record.
OWI endangering another person is a more serious charge. This is considered a Class-A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in county jail.
Violating a disaster emergency order is considered a Class-B misdemeanor in Indiana, which is also punishable by up to 180 days in county jail.
So this individual is facing nearly two years imprisonment.
As a defense attorney, you want to know what transpired between the police and your client. In this case, the defendant allegedly crashed into three parked vehicles, which is when the police found him. The defendant told police that he was returning from his friend’s house where they had been drinking. He ended up blowing a .17, more than twice the legal limit. Since drinking at your friend’s house is not an authorized activity under the coronavirus quarantine, he was charged with violating the quarantine order.
Houchens is the first individual in Floyd County to be charged with a quarantine violation. Since this situation is unprecedented, it remains to be seen how this is going to play out. Unfortunately for Houchens, he told police exactly what he was doing, which makes it very difficult to defend him from the charges.
As far as the DUI goes, he also admitted to police that he had been drinking with his friend. He then caused an accident.
As a Fort Wayne defense attorney, clients like this are common. But you also do not want to see them end up in jail for two years. If this is the defendant’s first OWI offense, he will do much better in court than someone who has already been convicted and this is their second offense.
Call The Bellinger Law Office if you’ve been charged with DUI in Fort Wayne, IN.