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Know the penalties for Indiana OWI

Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated dramatically increases the risk of a serious accident. Indiana can punish OWI offenders with jail time, fines and other administrative penalties.

If you face a court date for Indiana OWI, read on to understand the possible consequences.

First OWI conviction
Law enforcement will arrest Indiana drivers suspected of OWI if a breath test shows blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. Drivers younger than 21 will receive an OWI infraction for BAC between 0.02% and 0.08%. Indiana is an implied consent state, so refusing to take a breath test results in an automatic one-year license suspension.

Most OWI arrests result in search and seizure of your vehicle at your expense, and law enforcement will hold you in custody until you post bail.

If convicted of OWI for the first time, penalties may include:

  • Fines of up to $5,000 plus court costs
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to a one-year license suspension
  • Probation for up to two years
  • Mandatory attendance at an OWI victim impact panel
  • Substance abuse education at your expense

Second OWI conviction
A second OWI in Indiana can be a felony if it was committed within seven years of your first OWI. Consequently, if you receive a second OWI conviction in Indiana, penalties may include:

  • A mandatory executed minimum of five actual days in jail
  • A sentence between six months to two and one-half years in jail
  • Probation for up to two and one-half years
  • Community service
  • Up to a two and one-half year license suspension
  • Fines of up to $10,000 plus court costs

Third OWI conviction
If you commit a third OWI, Indiana law considers a driver a habitual offender. This can bring an additional one to eight years in prison in addition to the penalties previously described. Additionally, a third OWI within a 10-year period will cause you to be a habitual traffic violator, which will result in a ten-year license suspension. General expectations for a third OWI (if a felony) could be similar to the sentencing structure for a second OWI, only your criminal history will negatively impact you.

Controlled substances
The penalties for OWI also apply to those driving under the influence of a controlled substance. A law enforcement officer can force you to give a sample of your blood to be tested for controlled substances. Believe it or not, intoxication is not a factor in order to be convicted of OWI with a controlled substance.

You are guilty if it can be shown that you drove with a non-prescribed controlled substance in your system—even if you are sober.  Depending on the type of substance you have consumed, this can be true long after intoxication wears off.