Indiana recognizes the seriousness of what it refers to as Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated. Unfortunately, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities are on the rise in Indiana, increasing 3.7 percent per 100,000 residents between 2002 and 2012, when almost 239 people died due to alcohol-impaired driving incidents. In the hope of reversing this trend, state officials have passed a new law that will increase DUI conviction penalties effective January 2015.
First DUI Conviction Penalties in Indiana
Indiana imposes a 0.08 percent threshold on blood-alcohol content for drivers. Even drivers whose driving ability is not visibly impaired can be arrested for DUI if their BAC is 0.08 percent or higher. Indiana drivers imply their consent to chemical testing, making it easy for police officers to determine BAC. Refusing to take a blood or chemical test results in a one-year suspension of the driver license.
An initial DUI conviction carries no minimum required jail time in Indiana but remains on the criminal record permanently and subsequent DUI convictions require some time in jail. State statute prevents an individual arrested for OWI to plea bargain for a wet reckless conviction that has reduced penalties. However, a DUI attorney may be able to prevent conviction based on errors or oversights made during a DUI arrest.
Fines for a first offense Indiana DUI conviction range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Additional penalties include court costs and participation in a victim impact panel where individuals affected by DUI share their experiences. Effective January 2015, judges may require installation of ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of individuals convicted of their first OWI.
Underage DUI in Indiana
Since most drivers younger than 21 are responsible for alcohol-related accidents, they are subject to a 0.02 percent BAC threshold in Indiana. Those convicted of DUI will lose their driver licenses for up to one year and pay as much as $500 in fines. Underage drinkers whose BAC when driving exceeds 0.08 percent may also face up to 60 days in jail. Additional charges for distributing alcohol to other underage drinkers in the vehicle or other crimes will increase the penalties.
The number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities per 100,000 residents involving Indiana drivers under age 21 has decreased by almost 30 percent between 2002 and 2012. However, law enforcement officials will not let up until fatalities reach zero and they focus on underage drinkers to help prevent a mistake from becoming a habit. Drivers who are underage should pay attention and get legal assistance if they do get in trouble.
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Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.