How Much Does an OWI Cost in Indiana?
An arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Indiana will have a significant impact on your life. You may face incarceration, license suspension and fines. If you find yourself in this position, it is imperative that you hire an experienced OWI or DUI attorney that will aggressively advocate your case and guide you through the process. A strong legal defense in your OWI or DUI case can make a difference in the outcome and the impact to you and your family. An Indiana lawyer may be able to challenge the evidence presented in your case, negotiate specialized driving privileges, advocate for a lesser license suspension and/or reduce the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor. In some instances, the best Indiana OWI lawyers help their clients avoid OWI convictions altogether.
Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated
An OWI in Indiana is the abbreviation for the offense known as operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The term “intoxicated” encompasses both the use of alcohol or drugs, legal or illegal. Many people also refer to this criminal offense as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), but the Indiana legal code uses OWI.
Factors Influencing Cost of OWI
Whether you have a prior OWI offense oftentimes affects the severity of the charges against you. Additionally, a high level of intoxicating substances identified in your body by a chemical test, an accident involving injury or death, or the presence of a child in the vehicle will worsen the criminal charges against you. If your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) is .08 or higher, the law presumes you are intoxicated.
- Class C Misdemeanor – First Offense
- Class A Misdemeanor – First Offense, Driving While Endangering Someone
- Level 6 Felony – Previous OWI in past seven years or person under 21 in vehicle
- Level 5 Felony – Previous OWI causing serious injury or death
- Level 4 Felony – Previous OWI causing serious injury or death and current OWI charge involves serious injury or death
Even if your BAC is below .08, you can still be charged with an OWI or DUI. Prosecutors can use a BAC of .05 or higher as evidence that you were driving while intoxicated.
Fines, potential jail time, and other penalties derive from the type of charge.
- Class C Misdemeanor – 0 to 60 days in jail, $0 to $500 in fines
- Class A Misdemeanor – 0 to 1 year in jail, $0 to $5,000 in fines
- Level 6 Felony – 6 months to 2.5 years in jail, $0 to $10,000 in fines
- Level 5 Felony – 1 to 6 years in jail, $0 to $10,000 in fines
- Level 4 Felony – 2 to 12 years in jail, $0 to $10,000 in fines
As you can see, the fines jump significantly between the Class C Misdemeanor and Class A Misdemeanor. An experienced OWI attorney can assist in negotiating a lower fine in an OWI case.
Estimated Expenses for First Offense OWI
Fines / Costs
Repeat offenders face fines up to $10,000. If you are accused of OWI in Indiana for the first time, the fine might be as high as $500. In addition, most Courts will require you pay court costs and fees that go to support local programs and groups that promote awareness and treatment for alcohol related issues.
For the sake of discussion, assume a modest fine estimate of $500.
If police suspect that you are operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you will be arrested and taken into custody. Depending on your criminal record, some counties may have a pre-trial release program where you are released from jail on the promise that you will follow certain conditions, such as not commit any crimes and attend all future hearings. If you are not eligible or your county does not have a pre-trial release program, then the Court will set a bond in your case. Bond oftentimes referred to as Bail, vary and will increase if you have a criminal history. If Typically 10% of the bond amount is paid to a bail bondsman. Therefore if your bond is set at $2,500 or $5,000, you can pay the full amount with cash or pay $250 / $500 to a bail bondsman in order to be released from jail. If you do not use a bail bondman and pay the bond directly, then you will recover the amount paid, if you attend all hearings, at the conclusion of your case.
Here is what to do if you’ve been accused of a crime in Indiana
The estimated bail cost is $2500 – $5000 ($250 – $500 to a bail bondman).
Vehicle Towing and Impoundment
Expect to pay at least $100 to $200.
According to the Indiana Trial Court Fee Manual, you may be expected to pay various fees while the court processes your case.
For misdemeanors and some low-level felonies, court fees could total roughly $300.
Legal fees will range depending on your criminal history and the severity of the circumstances in your OWI. If you have previous OWI or alcohol related convictions or caused injury to another, then your OWI will be more complicated and the penalties more severe, which will add to the cost of your defense. Not including the cost of a trial, an OWI will typically fall between $2,500 to $10,000.
Estimated legal fees are $5,000.
Drug and Alcohol Assessment and Counseling
Sometimes the court requires people to undergo evaluation and counseling for their substance abuse.
Possible costs could be about $250 to $300.
Substance Abuse Treatment and Education
A sentence could include the requirement that you attend treatment and classes.
Estimated educational costs could be from $500 to $2,500
Higher Auto Insurance Premiums
You might not feel this expense until you regain your driving privileges. With an OWI on your record, you can expect insurance premiums to increase above your current rate by at least $1,000 per year.
Ignition Interlock Device
Even for a first offense, you might receive a sentence that requires installing an ignition interlock device on your vehicle after you are allowed to drive again. Should you face this requirement, you will have to pay for installation and a monthly monitoring fee.
Assuming six months of device monitoring, your total expenses could be approximately $500.
The expenses for your OWI, even under the least serious circumstances and using the lowest costs estimates are still significant. Additionally, you can expect other costs for:
- Getting your license reinstated
- Paying for transportation during your license suspension
- Losing income due to incarceration or loss of driving privileges
Talk to an OWI Attorney Today
The best Indiana lawyers sometimes keep people out of jail and prevent excessive financial losses after an OWI in Indiana. Mistakes made by police officers during your arrest or testing errors could enable an Indiana lawyer to challenge the charges against you. Help from a knowledgeable OWI attorney is available at Webster & Garino. Call us at 371-565-1818 or email us today.