An Indiana DUI Defense Lawyer Explains the Consequences of Multiple DUI Convictions

July 25, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

An Indiana DUI Defense Lawyer Explains the Consequences of Multiple DUI Convictions

For those with a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) on their record in Indiana, subsequent DUI convictions can carry penalties that significantly alter the life of the accused. Indiana DUI penalties are much harsher for those with two or three convictions for DUI on their records. To defend against DUI charges, you need an experienced Indiana DUI defense lawyer.

An experienced defense attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you determine the best defense strategy for your circumstances. This might include reviewing your prior convictions for expungement eligibility or even challenging the validity of the traffic stop or sobriety test the police administered in the current case. With the help of one of our knowledgeable attorneys, you may avoid another DUI on your record or reduce the penalties that can come with multiple DUIs.

An Indiana DUI Defense Lawyer Introduces the Indiana DUI Law Basics

When you consume alcohol or drugs, getting behind the wheel of a vehicle is never a good idea. If you are intoxicated and the police pull you over, you can face one of three different charges under Indiana DUI laws.

Having a general understanding of Indiana DUI laws and the related penalties can help individuals charged with multiple DUI offenses know what they are facing and how to best combat the charges against them. A skilled attorney can help you identify the facts in your case and gather evidence to support the dismissal or reduction of the charges and penalties against you.

Know Your Rights and the Penalties for DUI in Indiana

When you are pulled over by law enforcement or stopped at a police checkpoint in Indiana, you have certain rights. The police must follow specific procedures to ensure they do not violate your rights. Knowing your rights and the penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) under Indiana DUI laws is the first step in making your defense case, but you don’t have to address these issues alone. An Indiana DUI defense lawyer, like the ones at Keffer Hirschauer LLP, can help.

Refusing a Blood or Breath Test in Indiana

Under Indiana Code § 9-30-7-2, Indiana’s implied consent law, the police can gain the driver’s consent to perform a blood or breath test to determine blood alcohol levels, giving the driver the right to refuse. However, a refusal results in the driver facing a one-year license suspension, which is elevated to two years if the driver has a prior DUI.

DUI as a Class C Misdemeanor

In Indiana, when a person operates a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of .08 to .15 gram of alcohol, the driver can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor for a DUI. The blood-alcohol content test uses 100 milliliters of the person’s blood or 210 liters of the person’s breath. Class C misdemeanors for DUIs are not limited to driving while under the influence of alcohol and can include driving under the influence of drugs.

When you operate a vehicle with a controlled substance or a metabolite of a controlled substance in your body, the charge is for a Class C misdemeanor. However, it is a valid legal defense when the controlled substance is one that a practitioner validly prescribes in the medical professional’s practice. The following drugs are on the controlled substance list:

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • MDMA
  • LSD
  • Opium and opium extracts
  • Cocaine
  • Crack

It is important to understand that a metabolite is the byproduct of your body breaking down a drug, a process that occurs in everyone who takes drugs. Unfortunately, these metabolites can stay in your system long after you ingest the drug, and a person can test positive for the metabolites while not intoxicated. This means you can fail a drug test and face a DUI charge without being intoxicated when the police pull you over.

Whether the substance in your body is alcohol or drugs, the penalties are the same for a Class C misdemeanor. The penalty for a Class C misdemeanor is a jail sentence of up to 60 days, a fine of as high as $500, and a suspension of your driver’s license for up to 60 days.

DUI as a Class A Misdemeanor

Defendants who operate a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of at least fifteen-hundredths of a gram face a Class A misdemeanor charge. If you plead guilty or receive a guilty verdict at trial, you face incarceration for up to one year, a fine of $5,000, and a license suspension.

The penalties for Class A and Class C misdemeanor DUIs increase when the defendant has prior DUI convictions on the record. Contact an Indiana DUI defense lawyer to identify the best defense strategy for your case and help minimize the penalties levied after a conviction.

Required Penalties for All DUIs

Conviction for a DUI in Indiana can have several penal consequences. First, the court may order an individual convicted of DUI to attend a victim impact panel (VIP) and submit to the court a certificate to prove attendance and completion.

Second, the court may order the defendant to alcohol evaluation and treatment. Participation in a treatment program may include attending an interview to determine whether the individual’s alcohol use requires treatment. This penalty includes the completion of any treatment deemed necessary as a result of the meeting.

Lastly, the court may order the defendant to pay another fee in addition to any fines charged. This fee goes to a law enforcement fund intended to contribute to efforts to prevent crimes related to substance use.

An Indiana DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help Fight Multiple DUIs

While the penalties for an initial DUI are generally less severe due to their misdemeanor status, those with multiple DUIs face more significant and damaging penalties. Common penal consequences include incarceration, a fine, and suspension of your driver’s license. In Indiana, a DUI conviction stays on your record forever and can impact any sentences you receive for subsequent DUI offenses.

Indiana DUI Penalties for Defendants with Multiple DUIs

When you accrue a second or third DUI conviction within seven years of a prior DUI, you could face a Level 6 felony DUI charge. However, if the first DUI resulted in death, catastrophic injury, or serious bodily injury, you could face a higher level felony.

A Level 6 felony in Indiana carries a potential penalty of six months to two-and-a-half years and a maximum fine of $10,000. A Level 5 felony conviction can result in imprisonment for one to six years and the same potential fine of as much as $10,000.

The charge increases to a Level 4 felony in Indiana when a defendant has a prior DUI conviction within the past seven years and they caused serious bodily injury to another person while committing a DUI. A Level 4 felony carries a fine up to $10,000 plus potential imprisonment for two to 12 years. Your best chance of fighting any level of felony under Indiana DUI laws is with the help of an Indiana DUI defense lawyer.

Required Penalties for Multiple DUIs

Indiana DUI laws establish requirements for incarceration or community service for DUI convictions. The mandatory time depends on whether you have prior DUIs on your record:

  • Second DUI offenses carry a five-day imprisonment minimum or a 240 community service hours requirement along with a minimum one-year license suspension
  • A person’s third DUI conviction requires a ten-day minimum incarceration period or 480 hours of community service and a minimum one-year license suspension

Whether you face your second or third DUI charge, you face significant penalties, including the potential to become a habitual vehicular substance offender (HVSO) under Indiana Code § 9-30-15.5-2. To fight your DUI charge, contact an experienced Indiana DUI defense lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.

How Many DUIs before You Risk an HVSO Sentence Enhancement?

If you have multiple DUI offenses, you need to understand the laws related to how many prior DUI convictions are counted before HVSO status may be charged. All offenders with two or three previous DUI convictions risk being adjudicated a habitual vehicular substance offender.

A second DUI conviction does not automatically result in HVSO status as the timing of your convictions is important. An offender with two previous convictions for unrelated vehicular substance offenses must have at least one of their prior convictions occur within ten years of the date of the offense. However, a defendant with three prior convictions faces habitual offender status regardless of the timing of their convictions as Indiana DUI laws consider all DUIs in the defendant’s lifetime when they have three priors.

HVSO status results in extra penalties. An HVSO determination carries a potential sentence enhancement of one to eight years in prison. The level of the DUI does not matter for HVSO status to apply, and the third or fourth charge can be a Class C misdemeanor and still be used for HVSO status.

Defenses an Indiana DUI Defense Lawyer Can Use

Each DUI offense has a unique set of facts, meaning no defense is one-size-fits-all. Whether you are challenging the stop or validity of a sobriety test or using another defense, an experienced attorney can help defend you against charges related to multiple DUIs in Indiana. Keffer Hirschauer LLP DUI attorneys employ persuasive strategies such as these.

Challenging a DUI Stop

One of the first defenses asserted is often challenging the law enforcement stop leading to the DUI arrest. To pull a vehicle over, police officers must have reasonable suspicion that a driver has broken the law, such as by driving intoxicated or committing a traffic violation. Establishing a reasonable suspicion is a somewhat low bar, one the police offer can satisfy if by showing the driver was speeding, swerving, or violating any other traffic laws.

Challenging such evidence requires evidence that refutes the police officer’s testimony that he or she had reasonable suspicion. Dash camera footage is a common way to prove the police officer did not have the evidence necessary to pull you over. If your DUI lawyer can show that the police did not have the basis to stop you, the stop may be found unconstitutional, and you can further argue that any evidence found during or as a result of the stop should be inadmissible at trial.

Challenging Sobriety Tests in Indiana

Police must follow specific protocols when administering a field sobriety test or chemical test. Field sobriety tests are the physical tests performed on the side of the road and can include having an individual walk in a straight line or perform a one-leg stand. Law enforcement must receive proper training to administer the test and always follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s field sobriety test standards.

Chemical testing includes the use of a chemical breath machine at the police station or the collection of the defendant’s blood. Grounds for challenging a breath test include:

  • Whether the machine was calibrated correctly at the time of the test
  • Whether the person’s certificate for operating the machine was valid when performing the test
  • Whether the tested individual suffers from other medical conditions that may give a higher than normal reading
  • Whether the machine was operated correctly

Blood tests must follow the procedure set by the Indiana Department of Toxicology. If the police improperly store, collect, or test a sample, you may have a defense preventing the prosecutor from using the test results in court. Without either of these tests, it can be difficult for the prosecutor to secure a conviction for DUI.

Contact an Indiana DUI Defense Lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP

A DUI conviction can change your life, and multiple DUIs have long-lasting impacts. If you need help with multiple DUIs in Indiana, an experienced attorney can help build the best defense for your case. The leaders of Keffer Hirschauer’s DUI defense team are former Fatal Alcohol Crash Team (FACT) prosecutors. We have used this experience to successfully defend many DUI clients, protecting their rights and eliminating or reducing the Indiana DUI penalties imposed. Your future is on the line. For a free consultation, contact an Indiana DUI defense lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP at (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact form.

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