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What Is an OWI in Indiana?

The State of Indiana prohibits individuals from operating a vehicle after the intake of alcohol or drugs. This is a criminal offense known as Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI). Drivers commit this crime if they operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent. Generally, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) penalizes traffic violations and infractions in Indiana, including OWI. The state’s Judicial Branch also conducts hearings on traffic crimes and convicts drivers guilty of OWI violations.

What Happens When You Get an OWI for the First Time in Indiana?

Upon an OWI conviction in Indiana, the BMV can withdraw an offender’s driving privileges. A first-time OWI is a class C misdemeanor if the offender’s BAC was at least 0.08 percent but not up to 0.15 percent. The court penalizes this offense with the incarceration of up to sixty days and a $500 fine. If the BAC is higher than 0.15 percent, it is a class A misdemeanor, and offenders can pay a $5000 fine and face a maximum jail term of a year. The BMV can also suspend the offender’s license for up to 180 days and order the installation of an ignition interlock device.

How Likely Is Jail Time After a First OWI in Indiana?

Under Title 9 Article 30 of the Indiana Code, a first-time violation of the OWI laws is very likely to result in jail time because it is a criminal offense. A first OWI is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to a year in jail.

What Are the Typical Penalties for an OWI Conviction in Indiana?

The penalties assessed for an OWI conviction in Indiana may depend on the severity of the offense. The punishments for OWI convictions, depending on the classification of the violations, are:

  • Class C Misdemeanor: A first offense OWI falls under this classification. Such an offense can result in payment of fines amounting to $500 and a jail term of up to sixty days.
  • Class A Misdemeanor: If a first offense involves a driver’s BAC being 0.15 percent or higher, the court can sentence such offenders to a year in jail and a $5000 fine.
  • Level 6 Felony: This usually involves an OWI incident that results in the death of a law enforcement animal or serious bodily injuries. Also, if there is a passenger younger than eighteen years of age in the vehicle. In addition to a $10000 fine, individuals that commit this violation can face a minimum of six months in jail and a maximum of two-and-half years.
  • Level 5 felony: An offender can be charged with this if they have prior OWI convictions that involved accidents that caused death or severe bodily injuries. The court penalizes this offense with a jail term between a year and six years. This can be combined with a possible fine of $10000.
  • Level 4 felony: This occurs when an OWI incident causes a person’s death or the victim suffers catastrophic bodily injuries from the accident. The penalties include a jail sentence between two years to twelve years and a potential fine of up to $10000.
  • Administrative Penalties: The Indiana BMV also punishes drivers with OWI conviction. Such punishments are the total loss of driving privileges due to license suspension/revocation, restricted driving privileges, and the use of an ignition interlock device on a vehicle.

How Long Does an OWI Stay on Your Record in Indiana?

OWI convictions in Indiana permanently remain on an offender’s criminal record but stay on their driving records for five years. The state laws allow the expungement of a misdemeanor OWI incident after five years and a felony after eight years. However, interested persons cannot exactly expunge OWI convictions but can file a petition to expunge the arrest record or charge record.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Find OWI Checkpoints in Indiana?

OWI checkpoints/sobriety are lawful in Indiana. These checkpoints are legal roadblocks set up by law enforcement officers to evaluate drivers for any signs of intoxications. Law officers usually stop cars in a particular sequence, and upon suspicion, they can subject drivers to Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). All road users are mandated to take these tests, and refusal can result in arrest. Some counties give access to locations of sobriety checkpoints on their websites.

What Is an Aggravated OWI in Indiana?

Under the Indiana OWI laws, an aggravated OWI in Indiana is a felony traffic violation that occurs when certain circumstances result in a more severe crime and penalties. Factors that result in an aggravated OWI include:

  • Multiple OWI convictions within five years or seven years, depending on the felony class
  • If the accident results in catastrophic bodily injuries or death
  • If a minor passenger is in the vehicle at the time of the OWI incident
  • A blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher also constitutes an aggravated OWI

What Happens When You Get an OWI in Indiana?

OWI convictions in Indiana are punishable by jail time and payment of fines. Usually, the court penalizes offenders based on the severity of the incident and aggravating reasons. The Indiana BMV also assesses administrative punishments that typically cause the loss or restriction of driving privileges. Alleged offenders can decide to challenge an OWI ticket in court and enter a non-guilty plea. Individuals who wish to request a review on administrative sanctions must file their request with the BMV within fifteen days.

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