Understanding OWI With a Minor in the Vehicle

Criminal Defense
Understanding OWI With a Minor in the Vehicle

July 28, 2020

Almost all DUIs that are charged in Indiana are considered misdemeanors. However, there are a number of circumstances that can cause your DUI charge to be escalated to a felony. One of those is when you are operating your vehicle under the influence of alcohol with children in the vehicle.

A first offense for DUI with a minor in the vehicle is considered a level-6 felony. A conviction on this charge alone, even if no one was injured, is punishable by up to two and a half years in state prison. This charge escalates to a level-5 felony if there is a previous conviction for OWI in the past five years resulting in serious injury or death. A level-5 felony has a maximum prison sentence of six years in prison. Typically, OWI with a passenger under 18 is charged in conjunction with neglect of a dependent, or some other child endangerment charge.

Felony DUI in Indiana

While the majority of simple DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, there are some aggravating factors that can cause them to escalate to a felony. As mentioned above, driving under the influence with a minor under the age of 18 (while you are over 21) is grounds for a felony DUI in Indiana.

There are two other aggravating factors that can cause your DUI to escalate to a felony. Those are when someone else is seriously injured in the crash or when someone else is killed in the crash.

Father Charged With OWI

Police pulled up on a man who had pulled off to the shoulder of a highway with his flashers on. They found the man inside the vehicle passed out with an infant in the back seat. After several attempts to wake the man, the police noticed that he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and that there was an open alcoholic beverage container in the vehicle. They also found marijuana and a loaded pistol. 

He was charged with OWI with a minor in the vehicle (a felony), neglect of a minor, and OWI. These are all considered separate charges. Even though the father was not operating the vehicle when they found him, the police will assume that he was intoxicated when he maneuvered the vehicle onto the shoulder of the highway to take a nap. So the fact that the vehicle was not in motion when the police found it cannot be used as a defense to these charges. Perhaps that is what the man was hoping when he pulled off to the side of the road.

Talk to a Fort Wayne DUI Lawyer Today

Are you facing OWI charged in Fort Wayne? Call The Robert Bellinger Law Office today to learn how we can help successfully resolve your case. 

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Robert H. Bellinger



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