In our state, when someone is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is called many things, DUI, DWI and OWI. These laws make it a state crime to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But, if one is charged with OWI, what penalties might one face?
Blood Alcohol Concentration
As most of us know, the legal limit for alcohol while operating a motor vehicle is 0.08% Blood Alcohol Concentration. If one tests this high, then no other evidence of intoxication is needed. But for those under 21, that per se BAC limit is 0.02%, which is part of Indiana’s zero tolerance law for underage drinking. However, even those above 21 can still receive a Class C ticket for a BAC between 0.02% and 0.08%, if they are displaying some impairment, but the penalty is relatively minor, a $500 ticket.
Indiana Code Section 9-30-5
For people that are charged and their BAC was at or above 0.08%, Section 9-30-5 applies. For first time offenders, they only face up to a $500 fine, but they could also be imprisoned for up to 60 days. If their BAC level is at 0.15% or above, that incarceration term increases to one year and the fine increases to $5,000.
Passengers can make a difference
If one is charged when they have a minor as a passenger (someone under 18), the potential criminal punishment increases to a Level 6 felony. This mean that the incarceration maximum increases to 2.5 years and the fine increases to $10,000.
What about second convictions and injuries?
The minor-passenger penalty increase is also attached to second convictions within 5 years, if someone was seriously injured or if the accused killed a police animal. Though, depending on the facts, the incarceration time could increase to 6 years on subsequent convictions.
As convictions increase, fines and imprisonment time increase, especially if people are injured or killed. Most starkly, this increase is up to 12 years in jail, but in these cases, prosecutors often increase the number of felonies charged. This means that an OWI charge may simply compound multiple other charges for those arrested in Indianapolis, Indiana. As such, when one faces an OWI charge, they could also face manslaughter, reckless endangerment and a litany of other charges as well.