Many criminal offenses in Indiana have different levels of severity. There are levels of misdemeanors and levels of felonies depending on the severity of the offense. Certain OWI charges are classified as misdemeanor offenses, but some OWIs are charged as Level 6, 5 or 4 felonies.
Felony level OWI charges
OWI charges are Level 6 felonies if people have a second conviction within seven years. It is also a Level 6 felony if they are over 21 years old and the driver has a child under age 18 in the vehicle at the time of the offense.
It is a Level 5 felony for a second conviction if the previous conviction involved causing a death or serious injury. It is also a Level 5 felony for even a first-time OWI if the defendant caused a serious injury while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It becomes a Level 4 felony if the defendant had a previous OWI conviction within five years of the OWI causing serious injury.
If a driver causes a catastrophic injury or death while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then it is a Level 4 felony.
These felony-level OWI charges are very serious charges and the penalties can have major effects on people’s lives moving forward.
The penalties increase if people have more than one OWI or if they cause serious injuries to other people. After being charged, defendants have rights and are innocent until proven guilty. They must go through the criminal justice process and must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before being convicted. Experienced attorneys understand the potential defenses and may be able to help protect people’s rights.