One of Indiana law enforcement agencies’ responsibilities is to detect and charge people for drunk or intoxicated driving. This is known as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) in Indiana, but most people use the term Driving Under the Influence (DUI) when describing the criminal charge. For many people, a DUI arrest is their first interaction with the criminal justice system, placing them in a serious situation. Jail time, license suspensions, loss of employment are all possible consequences of an OWI arrest. The best DUI lawyer can help you navigate through this difficult time.
Implied Consent and Chemical Testing
The law requires you to submit to chemical testing of your breath, blood, or urine immediately after getting arrested for DUI. Your driver’s license already obligates you to cooperate with chemical testing through the legal concept of implied consent.
Chemical testing provides evidence of intoxication and will be used to convict you. However, providing bodily samples as required by law does not negate the option of defending yourself in court. When you hire the best DUI attorney, every aspect of the chemical testing and the traffic stop will be checked for inaccuracies.
In the near term, however, a failed chemical test indicating that you are over the legal limit will cause the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to suspend your license. This is known as an administrative suspension. As your case moves through the court system, you might receive a court-ordered suspension if you are convicted of DUI. If a DUI attorney succeeds in getting your case dismissed, then the administrative suspension can be rescinded.
Arrest and Processing
Chemical testing is one of the first things done after your arrest because authorities want to capture evidence of alcohol consumption before it fades from your body. A drunk driving arrest typically results in you spending a few hours or a couple of days in the local jail. The processing officer will record your personal information, take your picture, and collect your fingerprints.
If your jurisdiction has a pretrial release program and you qualify, then you may be released without the necessity of a bond. If your jurisdiction requires a bond, then you may have the option to pay a bail bond right away. If you or someone you know pays the bond, you can leave the jail, but you must appear at the initial hearing. If you have to wait for the court to determine the bail amount, or no one can pay, you will likely stay in jail until your hearing.
Formal Charges at Your Initial Hearing
You will hear the criminal charges filed against you at your initial hearing. You have a right to legal counsel at this hearing. However, you may not have had a chance to obtain a lawyer at that point since the initial hearing is typically conducted soon after your arrest. Even so, do not assume that no attorney is available for you. The court might appoint counsel for the hearing, and keep in mind that the best DUI lawyer in your area will strive to attend a new client’s initial hearing on short notice.
In fact, the initial hearing could present an opportunity to have charges dismissed depending on the evidence. One of the purposes of the initial hearing is for the judge to review the probable cause for your arrest. Your DUI lawyer could potentially argue that there is no probable cause that you operated a vehicle while intoxicated, which could result in the dismissal of your case or prevent your license from being suspended.
Although a case dismissal at the initial hearing is ideal, most defendants will proceed with the judicial process. The court will typically enter a preliminary “not guilty” plea on your behalf. If you have a DUI lawyer at your initial hearing the best OWI attorney will agree that you should plead not guilty. This allows you to develop a defense strategy and potentially avoid conviction. A guilty plea at your initial hearing removes almost any chance of limiting penalties.
At the conclusion of the initial hearing, the court will schedule your next court dates. If you do not have a lawyer yet, you should use the time before your next court appearance to consult a DUI attorney.
Learn More About Penalties
You could be upset and even bewildered in the first day or two after your OWI arrest. After your release and initial hearing, you can meet with the best DUI lawyer and find out the details about potential penalties and defenses.
General Overview of OWI Penalties in Indiana:
Class C Misdemeanor – Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) from 0.08% to 0.15% – 0 to 60 days in jail, $0 to $500 in fines
Class A Misdemeanor – BAC 0.08% and up – 0 to 1 year in jail, $0 to $5,000 in fines
Level 6 Felony – Minor was in the vehicle, bodily injury, or 2nd OWI in 5 years – 6 months to 3 years in jail, $0 to $10,000 in fines
Level 5 Felony – Previous OWI causing bodily injury or death – 1 to 6 years in jail, $0 to $10,000 in fines
Level 4 Felony – OWI killed someone – 2 to 12 years in jail, $0 to $10,000 in fines
Upon conviction, your license can be suspended the same length of time authorized for jail. Additionally, some sentences could include mandatory alcohol abuse or victim impact education.
During this pretrial stage, you and your attorney can decide if you should apply for Specialized Driving Privileges (SDP) or await the outcome of your case. In some circumstances, such as a first offense OWI with no aggravating factors, your license suspension may end being of short duration.
Your Defense Strategy
A defense lawyer at Webster & Garino, LLC will use the time before your next court date to examine the evidence against you. If feasible, motions may be filed to suppress evidence if mistakes occurred.
Efforts like this could result in a case dismissal or strengthen your position to negotiate a plea bargain. A plea agreement would exchange your guilty plea for the OWI, or perhaps a lesser offense, for a tolerable sentence instead of the maximum penalties possible. Occasionally, an OWI case goes to trial, and in that instance, we would argue your position vigorously before the jury.
Best DUI Lawyer – We Pursue the Best Outcome for Your OWI Case
We understand the importance of protecting your rights after a drunk driving arrest, and our law firm will seek to have your driving privileges restored and preserve your liberty. For a free first consultation, call Webster & Garino, LLC at 317-565-1818 or email the office today.
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