When a DUI/OWI is a Felony Under Indiana Law

When a DUI/OWI is a Felony Under Indiana Law

January 23, 2018

Indiana law uses the term “Operating While Intoxicated” (OWI) to refer to drunk driving offenses, and the statute is similar to those in many other states: You can be charged with OWI if your blood alcohol content is over .08 percent, or under that amount if you demonstrate signs of impairment when operating your vehicle. If convicted, your driver’s license is suspended; plus, there are criminal penalties, because drunk driving is against the law. In most cases, you will face misdemeanor charges, so your sentence may include fines and incarceration. However, under some circumstances, you could face felony charges for DUI. The stakes are much higher for a felony as compared to a misdemeanor, so it’s critical to discuss your case with an experienced OWI defense lawyer in Indiana.

Second Offense DUI

If you’re charged with OWI within five years of a prior drunk driving conviction, the offense is a Class D Felony with enhanced penalties. Therefore:

  • Your driving privileges are revoked for a minimum of 90 days, and potentially up to two years.
  • After the 90 day minimum period, you may qualify for a probationary driver’s license. Any additional violations within the probationary period can lead to additional penalties and suspensions.
  • You can be sentenced to a minimum of 10 days in jail or up to three years, though a judge may grant at least 350 hours of community service in lieu of incarceration.
  • You may be required to attend a drug and alcohol assessment program and complete a treatment program.
  • A fine for a second OWI in five years can reach $10,000.

Third Offense DUI

Indiana law also treats a third drunk driving violation as a felony, but the look back period is longer. A conviction of a third OWI within a period of more than five but less than 10 years means:

  • Your driver’s license is suspended for at least 180 days, with a maximum of ten years. However, if have two DUI violations in less than five years, the minimum suspension is one year.
  • You may be sent to jail for up to 10 days and a maximum of three years, with the potential for a sentence of at least 360 days of community service.
  • As with a second OWI, you may be sentenced to attend a substance abuse assessment and complete a treatment program. You also face fines up to $10,000.

Involuntary Manslaughter

There are serious implications for an OWI that results in the death of another person, even though it was unintentional. You will be charged with a felony for involuntary manslaughter and may be jailed up to eight years. If you have two drunk driving offenses that cause death or injury to another individual, you will lose your license forever.

Are You Facing DUI Charges in Indiana? Consult with a Fort Wayne OWI Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, the implications are serious and extensive. Our OWI defense lawyers at the Bellinger Law Firm can help. Please contact our office in Fort Wayne, Indiana for more information or to schedule a consultation.

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Robert H. Bellinger



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