First DUI Offense in Indiana
Navigating the roads of Indiana requires not only skill and awareness but also adherence to the law, particularly when it comes to the laws on drinking and driving. Despite what others might say, your first DUI offense in Indiana is much more than a mere traffic violation; it’s a significant legal issue with far-reaching consequences that have the potential to impact all aspects of your day-to-day life.
In this article, we delve into the details of Indiana’s DUI laws, the potential penalties that come with a first offense, and the strategic defenses available to those facing such charges. Our goal is to provide clear and comprehensive information to help you understand the gravity of a DUI offense and the importance of informed legal representation.
If you have already been arrested for a DUI, do not hesitate to contact the Indianapolis DUI attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our firm is led by former Fatal Alcohol Crash Team (FACT) prosecutors, making us one of the very few Indiana law firms with former FACT prosecutors representing clients accused of drunk driving. Who better safeguards your rights and understands the prosecution’s methods than former prosecutors themselves?
Don’t resign yourself to maximum penalties under the law. If you’re ready to begin taking control of the situation, contact an Indiana first-time DUI attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP by calling 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
What are the DUI Laws in Indiana?
Driving under the influence in Indiana is legally defined by specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits: 0.08% for drivers over 21; 0.02% for those under 21; and 0.04% for commercial drivers. However, DUI charges aren’t limited to alcohol consumption alone; they also encompass impairment due to other controlled substances.
Indiana law enforcement utilizes various methods to determine DUI, including field sobriety tests and BAC testing through breathalyzers or blood tests. It’s crucial to understand these laws and testing procedures as they form the basis of most DUI allegations.
It’s also important to remember that, under the Implied Consent Law in Indiana, anyone who operates a vehicle is deemed to have given their consent to submit to chemical tests if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe they are intoxicated. This means that if an officer suspects DUI, they can request a blood test, and refusal can lead to a one-year license suspension.
What Are the Potential Penalties for First Time DUI?
A first DUI offense in Indiana can lead to a complex web of penalties, underscoring the state’s stringent stance against impaired driving. Individuals may face legal repercussions including fines, jail time, and suspension of their driving privileges. The specific penalties can vary based on the BAC level and other circumstances surrounding the offense. For instance, higher BAC levels might result in harsher penalties. Furthermore, there are collateral ramifications such as increased insurance rates and potential impacts on employment. Understanding these penalties is crucial for anyone facing a DUI charge in Indiana.
What are the Criminal Penalties for Your First DUI Offense?
When a person is arrested for their first DUI offense in Indiana due to driving while intoxicated with a BAC below .15%, they’ll likely be charged with a Class C misdemeanor offense. Under the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, the maximum penalty for this level of criminal offense is 0-60 days in prison and a fine of no more than $500. In addition, the offender could have their driver’s license suspended for up to 60 days and/or be placed on probation in Indiana.
For a person who is charged with a first-time DUI involving a BAC over .15%, the penalties are a bit more serious. They could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor offense, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of no more than $5,000. On top of that, the offender may have their license suspended for up to 60 days and/or be placed on probation in Indiana.
In addition to the criminal penalties listed above, a person who is convicted of their first DUI offense in Indiana risks losing their driving privileges for up to two years and may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. They could also be required to submit to drug/alcohol testing and participate in a substance abuse class.
How Likely is Jail Time for a First DUI?
The likelihood of jail time for a person’s first DUI offense in Indiana is rather low; this is especially true for offenders with lower BACs and no aggravating factors. However, as is the case with many criminal offenses, this all depends on the circumstances surrounding the arrest. For instance, a person is much more likely to face jail time if their first DUI offense was elevated to a felony due to an aggravating factor. This could happen in the following situations:
- The offender is over 21 years old and was convicted of drunk driving with at least one passenger in the car who was under the age 18
- The offender’s actions caused serious bodily injury to another person
- The offender’s actions caused the death or catastrophic injury of another person
Overall, when determining criminal penalties courts consider various aspects of the offense at hand, including the nature of the offense and any mitigating circumstances. This variability underscores the importance of legal representation to navigate the complexities of DUI cases and to potentially mitigate severe penalties, including jail time.
What are the Professional Consequences for a First-Time DUI?
When someone is convicted of a DUI, they risk incurring collateral consequences for their actions, even in the case of a first time DUI in Indiana. For instance, those with a criminal record often find it difficult to find a job, especially ones that require you to operate a vehicle. In addition, a DUI may also impact a person’s professional licensure. This is especially true for those nurses in Indiana, as well as doctors, other health care professionals, and Hoosiers that hold a CDL license.
In situations like these, where a person’s professional licensure is at risk due to a DUI arrest or conviction, it’s best to hire an attorney who can handle both the criminal proceedings, as well as the administrative proceedings related to their licensure. The Indianapolis professional license defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have successfully represented dozens of Hoosiers before the various boards of the Professional Licensing Agency. To speak with an attorney who can handle both your DUI and matters related to your professional license, call 317-857-0160.
How Do You Fight Drunk Driving Charges in Indiana?
With the potential penalties for a first DUI offense in Indiana in mind, let’s explore some of the defense strategies that an Indiana defense attorney can use to help offenders fight these charges and/or avoid serious criminal penalties.
Improper Stop by Police: The police must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over for a DUI in Indiana. This means that if they pull you over for no reason, it may be considered an improper stop. Swerving in and out of lanes, however, or driving without your headlights on, those could warrant reasonable suspicion that a DUI is taking place.
Failure to Administer Field Sobriety Tests Properly: The horizontal gaze nystagmus, one-leg stand, and walk-and-turn tests are all part of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). Officers must follow very specific protocols and adhere to strict rules to ensure the SFSTs that they administer are both accurate and reliable, or risk having the case thrown out.
Poor Maintenance of Blood Samples: When a blood sample is required, a trained and licensed professional must collect it, analyze it, and then store it properly. If a person’s blood samples are not stored at the right temperatures, are mislabeled, or are collected by an untrained professional, then the entire blood sample could be called into question and possibly tossed out.
False-Positive Breathalyzer Test: There are many reasons why a breathalyzer test could be skewed, whether that be a medical condition, food intake, or the improper operation of the device by the officer. Under Indiana’s breathalyzer laws, a false-positive test could result in having the test thrown out as evidence in the case.
Lack of Probable Cause for Arrest: Reasonable suspicion is not enough, on its own, to support a DUI arrest. Even in situations where both an SFST and a breathalyzer test in Indiana are conducted, there still may not be sufficient evidence to support arresting the driver. If the officer does, however, arrests the driver, a skilled Indianapolis DUI lawyer may be able to successfully argue that the officer lacked probable cause, the DUI case could be dismissed altogether.
Inconsistent or Unreliable Testimony by Police: When a person goes to court for a first DUI offense in Indiana, the police officer involved in the arrest can be called to testify in court. When put on the stand, the officer can be asked about his or her observations and the content of the resulting police report. If the officer’s testimony doesn’t reflect what was recorded in the police report, an experienced Indiana defense attorney could question the officer’s integrity and reliability to have the case dismissed.
Arrested for Your First DUI Offense in Indiana?
When a Hoosier is arrested for their first DUI offense in Indiana, they often feel frightened and overwhelmed. That’s to be understood. For many first-time offenders, the criminal process in Indiana is unfamiliar and daunting, and on top of that, the outcome of their case is unknown. This is precisely why it’s so important to hire the most experienced DUI attorney possible.
The criminal defense team at Keffer Hirschauer LLP understands the seriousness of a DUI offense, which is why we provide our clients with compassionate and skilled legal guidance every step of the way. Our founding attorneys, Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer III, are both former deputy prosecutors who have handled cases like this on both sides of the court room. This means we know what it takes to obtain case dismissals and not guilty verdicts in cases involving first time DUIs.
If you’re looking for an Indiana drunk driving attorney who is invested in securing the best possible outcome in the case against, then contact our firm today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.