Your Guide to Indiana Drinking Laws
For many, alcohol is a rather ordinary element of their life; it’s part of a variety of traditions, as well as a way to relax and enjoy oneself, often in the company of others. However, just like every other state in the country, Indiana law does regulate the consumption and purchase of alcohol, as well as which types of activities one may partake in while intoxicated. This article will address various Indiana drinking laws and explain the severity of each associated offense. However, if you have already been charged with an alcohol-related offense, it would be best to call an experienced, skilled criminal defense attorney in Indiana, like those at Keffer Hirschauer LLP,
Our two founding partners are both former Fatal Alcohol Crash (FACT) prosecutors. This means they truly understand the intricacies of Indiana’s alcohol and intoxication laws, and, therefore, are able to provide our clients with dynamic and effective defense strategies. To begin building your defense, call us today at 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
The Indiana drinking laws regarding minors are located in Indiana Code 7.1-5-7. This section of Indiana law outlines the legal drinking age in Indiana, the criminal offenses associated with false identities and fake IDs, illegal possession of alcohol, serving a minor, and aiding a minor with unlawful possession of alcohol.
Like all other states, the legal drinking age in Indiana is 21 years old. As stated in Indiana Code 7.1-5-7-7, any minor who knowingly possesses, consumes, or transports an alcoholic beverage commits a Class C Misdemeanor in Indiana. Furthermore, if the minor is found to have consumed or transported alcohol the court can choose to suspend their driving privileges for up to one year. However, if the offender is under 18, their driving privileges will automatically be suspended for at least 60 days.
It is also illegal to use a false identity or fake ID to purchase or consume alcohol while underage in Indiana. Indiana Code 7.1-5-7-1 through 7.1-5-7-4 states that:
- It is a Class C Misdemeanor for a minor to knowingly or intentionally make a false statement regarding age or to present/offer false or fraudulent evidence for the purpose of ordering, purchasing, attempting to purchase or otherwise procuring or attempting to procure alcohol.
- It is a Class C Misdemeanor for a person to sell, give, or furnish to a minor false or fraudulent evidence of majority or identity, with the intent to violate or assist in the violation of procuring alcohol underage.
- It is a Class C infraction for a minor to have in their possession false or fraudulent evidence of majority or identity with the intent to violate the Indiana drinking laws.
Those who serve alcohol to a minor or assist a minor in obtaining or consuming alcohol face criminal penalties in Indiana, as well. Per Indiana Code 7.1-5-7-8, it is Class B Misdemeanor for a person to recklessly, knowingly or intentionally sell, barter, exchange, provide or furnish an alcoholic beverage to a person under the age of 21. In addition, this offense can be elevated to a Class A Misdemeanor if the person has a prior but unrelated conviction under this section of the law; and a Level 6 felony if the consumption, ingestion, or use of the alcoholic beverage is the proximate cause of serious bodily injury or the death of another person.
This section of the Indiana drinking laws also criminalizes the act of knowingly or intentionally renting, providing or arranging for the use of property for the purpose of allowing or enabling a minor to consume alcohol. If found in violation of this law, a person would face a Class C infraction. However, this could be elevated to a Class B Misdemeanor if the person has, within the previous five years, a prior but unrelated adjudication or conviction under this section of the law. Finally, Indiana Code 7.1-5-7-15 criminalizes the decision to aid a minor in procuring alcohol. Per the law, “[a] person twenty-one (21) years of age or older who knowingly or intentionally encourages, aids, or induces a minor to unlawfully possess an alcoholic beverage commits a Class C infraction.”
Operating a Vehicle
As stated in Indiana Code 9-30-5-1, the legal limit for alcohol in Indiana, when operating a vehicle, is .08% blood alcohol concentration or breath alcohol concentration. Most commonly, these are measured using a device called a breathalyzer. If a person is found to be in violation of Indiana’s drinking and driving laws, and their blood or breath alcohol concentration is less than .15%, they can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor in Indiana. However, if they’re found to have a concentration over .15%, or it’s determined that they are operating a vehicle in a way that puts themselves or another person in danger, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
Furthermore, it is possible to be charged with a felony DUI in Indiana, as well. For instance, Indiana Code 9-30-5-3 states that someone caught driving while intoxicated can be charged with a Level 6 felony under three circumstances, including
- Prior conviction of operating a vehicle while intoxicated within the past 7 years
- The offense caused the death of a law enforcement animal
- The offender is over the age of 21 and operated the vehicle with a passenger under the age of 18.
In addition, if a person has a previous conviction of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and that prior offense resulted in death, catastrophic injury, or the serious bodily injury of another person, they could be charged with a Level 5 felony.
Some of the most serious Indiana drinking laws are outlined in Indiana Code 9-30-5-4 and Indiana Code 9-30-5-5. These sections of Indiana law describe a variety of circumstances where a person can be charged with a more serious felony DUI in Indiana. For example, if a person’s DUI offense resulted in the serious bodily injury of another person, they can be charged with Level 5 felony DUI in Indiana, which could be elevated to a Level 4 felony if they have previously been convicted of a DUI within the last 5 years. Finally, if a person’s DUI offense caused the death or catastrophic injury of another person, they can be charged with a Level 4 Felony.
Potential Penalties for Indiana Drinking and Driving Offenses
The penalties for a DUI arrest in Indiana differ based on the context and circumstances of the individual offense. Given this, it’s best to consult the Indiana sentencing guidelines to better ascertain the severity of the charges one may face for a DUI conviction. However, at the lowest level, a person charged with a misdemeanor DUI can face up to one-year imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, they could be subject to two years of probation and the suspension of their Indiana driver’s license.
Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender in Indiana
For Hoosiers convicted of a second or third DUI arrest in Indiana, the penalties are much harsher. This is especially true for people whose offense resulted in serious bodily injury, catastrophic injury, or the death of another person. Furthermore, someone who has been deemed a habitual vehicular substance offender (HVSO) under Indiana Code 9-30-15.5-2, faces an additional 1-8 years in prison.
Anyone who runs the risk of being deemed habitual vehicular substance offenders, should contact an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney. The DUI attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP fully understand the Indiana drinking laws and routinely assist clients in understanding the limitations of these enhancements and building defenses. If you’d like to speak with one of our Indianapolis attorneys today about your DUI charges, feel free to call us at 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
The Indiana drinking laws regarding public intoxication are located in Indiana Code 7.1-5-1. This section clearly states that when someone is in a clear state of intoxication (caused by their use of alcohol or a controlled substance) in a public place, they may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor in Indiana. However, they must be doing one or more of the following things:
- endangering their own life
- endangering the life of another person
- breaching the peace or in imminent danger of breaching the peace
- harassing, annoying, or alarming another person
In addition, Indiana Code IC 7.1-5-1-6 defines a similar offense called, “intoxication upon common carrier.” This offense is considered a class C infraction and relates to situations where a person is or becomes intoxicated in or upon a vehicle commonly used for the public transportation of passengers; in or upon a common carrier; or in or about a depot, station, airport, ticket office, waiting room or platform. More simply, it’s illegal in Indiana to be or become intoxicated while using public transportation or while on property associated with public transportation.
Further Questions about the Indiana Drinking Laws?
Whether you need help understanding the severity of a DUI, how to handle a drinking ticket, or a more complex topic, like the laws regarding implied consent in Indiana, the Indiana drunk driving lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer are available to help you. Our team is staffed by former deputy prosecutors who have experience both prosecuting and defending cases involving alcohol and intoxication. We understand Indiana law inside and out and are in an optimal position to anticipate how the prosecution may approach your case. If you’d like to speak with an attorney today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our `online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We stand ready to protect you and your rights and will work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome in the case against you.