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Your Guide to the Indiana DUI Laws 

The Indiana DUI laws are generally clear. Driving while intoxicated in Indiana is a serious crime that could lead to serious criminal penalties and collateral consequences for those convicted. This post will provide a general overview of the laws on operating a vehicle while intoxicated, address some common questions on the topic, and outline the benefits of hiring a skilled Indiana DUI defense attorney. However, if you’ve already been arrested and charged with a DUI in Indiana, you’ll want to contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. This will better ensure that everything is being done to protect you and your ability to stay on the road.  

Not sure who to call? Contact the Indiana drunk driving lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today by calling 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our DUI defense team is led by two former Fatal Alcohol Crash (FACT) prosecutors who understand the intricacies of the Indiana DUI laws and leverage past experience to create dynamic and effective defense strategies tailored towards securing the optimal outcome for their clients.  

Drunk Driving in Indiana

Overview of the Indiana DUI Laws 

The Indiana DUI laws can be found in Indiana Code 9-30-5. This chapter of state law outlines the various offenses a person can be charged with if caught driving while intoxicated in Indiana. The offenses vary in severity, and depending on the context of the situation, a person could be charged with a DUI offense as minor as a Class C misdemeanor or as serious as a Level 4 felony.  

Misdemeanor DUI Offenses in Indiana 

Under Indiana Code 9-30-5-1, operating a vehicle over the legal limit for alcohol in Indiana (0.08% blood alcohol concentration or breath alcohol concentration) could result in a person being charged with Class C misdemeanor in Indiana. This charge could be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor, however, if the person is found to be operating the vehicle with a BAC exceeding 0.15%. In addition, as prescribed by Indiana Code 9-30-5-2, a person may also be charged with a Class A misdemeanor DUI if they’re found to be operating the vehicle in a manner that endangers a person.  

Felony DUI Offenses in Indiana 

Under Indiana DUI Laws, there are various situations that could result in a person being charged with a felony for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. These situations include the following:  

Level 6 Felony DUI 

  • The person has been previously convicted of a DUI in the past 7 years 
  • The person is over the age of 21; and 
    • was operating the vehicle with a BAC exceeding 0.015% with at least one passenger under the age of 18 
    • was operating the vehicle in a manner that endangered another person with at least one passenger under the age of 18 
  • The person was operating a vehicle with a BAC exceeding 0.08% and caused the death of a law enforcement animal 

Level 5 Felony DUI 

  • The person had a previous DUI conviction that resulted in death or catastrophic injury 
  • The person had a previous DUI conviction that resulted in serious bodily injury 

Level 4 Felony DUI 

  • The person who was operating the vehicle with a BAC exceeding 0.08% and caused serious bodily injury to another person AND had a previous DUI conviction within the past 5 years 
  • The person who was operating the vehicle with a BAC exceeding 0.08% and caused death or catastrophic injury to another person  

Potential Penalties for a DUI in Indiana 

As should be clear by now, the Indiana DUI laws take drinking and driving quite seriously. As a result, a person who commits this offense risks harsh criminal penalties. Therefore, anyone who has been arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Indiana should contact a skilled DUI defense lawyer immediately. They will be able to represent and defend the individual in criminal proceedings and work towards minimizing the consequences, having the charges reduced, or getting the case dismissed, altogether.  

As prescribed by the sentencing guidelines in Indiana, a person charged with the lowest level DUI, would face a potential prison sentence of 0-60 days in prison, a fine of up to $500, and suspension of their driver’s license for up to 60 days. However, with the help of the right attorney, most offenders have their sentence suspended and are instead placed on probation and granted specialized driving privileges.  

From here, the penalties get more serious. Those convicted of a Class A misdemeanor DUI could be sentenced to a prison sentence of up to 1 year and face fines of up to $5,000. In addition, they could have their driver’s license in Indiana suspended for an entire year.  

Those charged with a felony DUI under the Indiana DUI laws face even more dire penalties. On top of that, the weight of a felony criminal record could haunt them for years to come; impacting their ability to secure employment, professional licensure, housing and/or much needed financial assistance. It may also limit their civil rights, including their ability to possess and carry a firearm.  

Sentencing Guidelines for Felony DUIs  

  • Level 6 Felony Penalties: 6 months – 2.5 years in prison; fines of up to $10,000 
  • Level 5 Felony Penalties: 1 – 6 years in prison; fines of up to $10,000 
  • Level 5 Felony Penalties: 2 – 12 years in prison; fines of up to $10,000 

Common Questions about Indiana’s DUI Laws 

What do the Indiana DUI Laws say about Controlled Substances? 

The Indiana DUI laws explicitly state that a person operating a vehicle under the influence of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance may be charged with a DUI. However, there are some statutory defenses for this offense, including a valid prescription. In addition, a person cannot be charged with a DUI if a blood test shows an active metabolite for cannabis, but they were not intoxicated at the time; did not cause a traffic accident; and the substance was found when the person submitted to a chemical test pursuant to Indiana’s implied consent law.  

Can you get a DUI on a Bike in Indiana? What about other Vehicles?  

Yes, you can get a DUI on a bike in Indiana. The Indiana DUI laws are written in an intentionally broad manner. Therefore, the phrase “operating a vehicle while intoxicated,” can be applied to any vehicle that fits the definition of the word set forth in Indiana Code 9-13-2-196(d). Under this definition, the intoxicated operation of any “device for transportation by land or air,” not including an electric personal assistive mobility device (like an electric wheelchair), could result in being charged with a DUI.  

Common Vehicles Involved in DUIs 

  • Cars 
  • Boats 
  • Bicycles 
  • Electric Scooters 
  • ATVs 
  • Snow Mobiles 

What are the Laws on Open Containers and Drinking while Driving?  

As outlined in Indiana Code 9-30-15-3, a person in a motor vehicle that is in operation or located on the right-of-way of a public highway who possesses a container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of the vehicle that has been opened, possesses a broken seal, or which has had contents removed, commits a Class C infraction in Indiana.  

Although, there are a few exceptions to this law. First, when the open container may be possessed by a person who is not driving the vehicle, and that vehicle’s passenger compartment is designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of other people for compensation (i.e. the vehicle is a limousine). Second, an open container may be possessed by a person who is not driving the vehicle, and the person in possession of the container is in the living quarters of a house coach or trailer (i.e. the vehicle is an RV). Finally, an open container may be in the car, provided it is located behind the last upright seat (i.e. in the trunk) or, in the absence of a trunk, in an area not normally occupied by a person (i.e. a trunk bed).  

As for consuming an alcoholic drink while operating a vehicle, Indiana Code 9-30-15-4 classifies this offense as a Class B infraction if the person’s BAC is less than 0.08%. Otherwise, the standard Indiana drinking and driving laws would apply.   

Benefits of Hiring an Indiana DUI Defense Lawyer 

The maximum potential penalties for a DUI in Indiana can be incredibly harsh. However, those are the maximum penalties; which means that it’s certainly possible to have one’s potential penalties minimized, or in some situations, have the case dismissed altogether. This is often achieved by hiring the best Indiana DUI defense lawyer possible. 

The drunk driving defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have developed dynamic DUI defense strategies that provide each of our clients with the best possible chance of securing the best possible outcome in the case against them.  

Our attorneys also assist clients with mitigating the collateral consequences of being arrested for driving while intoxicated in Indiana. This includes assistance with obtaining specialized driving privileges in Indiana, reinstating a suspended license, obtaining a DUI expungement (when eligible). On top of that, they’re also able to capably defend clients against any potential threats to a professional license in Indiana that may arise following a DUI arrest.    

Speak with a Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer Today  

If you’ve been arrested under the Indiana DUI laws and need to speak with a criminal defense lawyer immediately, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Although we’re based in Indianapolis, we routinely represent clients all throughout the state of Indiana and stand ready to defend you, no matter where you’re located. To schedule your free case consultation today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form. 

Summary
Your Guide to the Indiana DUI Laws 
Article Name
Your Guide to the Indiana DUI Laws 
Description
This article is a general guide to the Indiana DUI Laws.
Publisher Name
Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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