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When is drunk driving a felony in Indiana?

| Jan 15, 2021 | OWI |

If you are facing drunk driving charges in Indiana, you might be surprised that law enforcement didn’t charge you with a felony. While you know the consequences of an OWI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated) conviction are stiff, you wonder if a second or third drunk driving offense might lead to felony charges.

You know having a felony offense on your record can have a long-term affect on your life. It likely will make it difficult to get a job, find a nice place to live and own a gun. You want to make sure you avoid a future felony OVI conviction at all costs. So, when does drunk driving become a felony offense in Indiana?

OWI penalties in Indiana

In Indiana, an OWI offense rises to a felony charge in the following circumstances:

  • You are over 21 and operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a passenger who is under 18 in your vehicle. (Level 6 felony)
  • The court convicts you of a second OWI offense within five years of your first offense. (Level 6 felony)
  • You cause a serious bodily injury or kill a law enforcement animal while driving drunk. (Level 6 felony)
  • You have a prior offense for an OWI in which your drunk driving seriously injured or killed someone and then you get a second OWI conviction (even without injuring someone else). (Level 5 felony)
  • You have a second OWI offense in which you seriously injured another person while driving drunk. (Level 5 felony)
  • You have a blood alcohol level of .15 or above and had an OWI within the last five years or you have a suspended license. (Level 4 felony)
  • If your drinking and driving caused the death of another person. (Level 5 felony)

Felony penalties for OWI

The penalties for felony OWI penalties in Indiana are tough. For a Level 6 felony OWI conviction, you can receive:

  • A prison sentence of six months to 2.5 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

For a Level 5 felony OWI conviction, you can receive:

  • A one- to six-year prison sentence
  • A fine of up to $10,000

For a Level 4 felony conviction, you can receive:

  • A two- to 12-year prison sentence
  • A fine up to $10,000

Getting help when facing OWI charges

When you are facing OWI charges, whether it’s a first offense, second offense or a felony charge, you need to get legal help. Kammen & Moudy can give you the experienced support you need to present a strong defense against your drunk driving charges. You need to do what you can to protect yourself from receiving a harsh felony conviction or having multiple OWI convictions on your record.