Steps to Take After Getting a DUI in Indiana

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DUI Laws in Indiana – 2021 Guide

Indiana law designates drunk or drugged driving as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). You may know this offense as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Regardless of the official name, an arrest on suspicion of OWI places you in the hands of the criminal justice system. Fines, loss of driving privileges, and perhaps jail time now loom as possible penalties. Due to the seriousness of the situation, you should take the following steps to prepare for court. 

1. Obtain Release From Jail

The law enforcement agency that detained you will likely hold you for several hours. Police will not want to release you if you still appear intoxicated. Ideally, you will be released on your own recognizance. You simply sign paperwork promising to appear in court as required. 

If release on your own recognizance is not allowed, then you will need to pay bail. You might have to contact a friend, family member, or bail bond agent to help you access the cash necessary for release. 

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2. Record What Happened During Your Traffic Stop

Once you get home, take some time to record your recollection of what happened. Write down your memories or record a video on your phone. The important part is to save the information while it is still fresh in your mind. 

Mention details such as the police officer’s reason for the traffic stop and whether you took part in a field sobriety test. A criminal defense lawyer will want to know this information to determine whether the interactions between you and the officer violated your rights. Mistakes by a police officer could help your defense.

3. Plan to Attend Your Court Date

 Appearing in court as required is vital.  A missed court date could result in a warrant for your arrest. 

Clear out your schedule for the day that you need to go to court. Request the day off work, arrange for childcare if needed, and figure out how you will get a ride to the courthouse.  It is possible that your driver’s license may already be suspended, do not drive yourself to court. 

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4. Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney in Indiana

A criminal attorney can explain what will happen during your court appearance and recommend strategies for your defense. Even if the evidence collected by a breath or blood test, also known as a chemical test, indicates that you were above the legal limit and conviction appears inevitable, a criminal defense lawyer may still communicate reasons for leniency. Judges have some discretion in the application of penalties.

Before going before a judge, a criminal attorney could discuss the case with the prosecutor. A plea deal could emerge that limits penalties. For example, some OWI cases end up being treated as reckless driving with drugs or alcohol involvement. The penalty could be less severe than an OWI conviction. 

At times, a criminal defense lawyer in Indiana might determine that you have a chance to plead not guilty. Police officers can make mistakes. Testing equipment can produce false positives. Maybe the officer did not have a legitimate reason to pull you over in the first place.

The circumstances of your OWI arrest influence your defense options in many ways. If you have a prior OWI conviction, a minor was in the vehicle, or you were involved in an accident that caused injuries, those factors could make the penalties even higher. Even so, legal representation could improve your position. An attorney may counteract the most negative interpretations of what happened. 

Additionally, an Indiana lawyer could request the restoration of limited driving privileges, commonly referred to as Specialized Driving Privileges or SDP, so that you can drive to work, exercise parenting time or attend religious services such as church. If granted, you may need to pay for an Ignition Interlock Device. 

5. Understand OWI Penalties in Indiana

There are many factors that play into The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) recorded by a chemical test at the time of your arrest determines the severity of penalties. 

 First offense with BAC between 0.08 and 0.15:

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  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Pay a Fine
  • License suspension typically 90 days

 First offense with BAC above 0.15:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fine up to $5,000
  • License suspension for 180 days

 Second offense with BAC between 0.08 and 0.15:

  • Up to 60 days in jail
  • Fine up to $500
  • Minimum 1-year license suspension

 Second offense with BAC above 0.15:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fine up to $5,000
  • Minimum 1-year license suspension

5. Decide How to Plead in Court

After discussing your defense options with an attorney, you will need to make a final decision about how to proceed. Simply entering a guilty plea and hoping to get the whole thing over with could expose you to harsher penalties than if you had hired a criminal defense lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. You may discover that you can realistically plead not guilty on the advice of a lawyer and potentially avoid costly fines and a serious blemish on your driving record. 

Webster & Garino LLC Can Help

You have the right to hold the criminal justice system to high standards when you stand accused of breaking the law. We will leverage every opportunity to protect your freedom and limit long-term consequences after a drunk driving arrest. For a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Indiana, call our office at 317-565-1818.