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Indiana OWI Laws: FAQ

What happens after I am arrested for drunk driving in Indiana?

  • You will be handcuffed and taken to the police station.
  • Your car and your person will be searched.
  • Your car will be towed at your expense.
  • You will be asked to take a certified breath test. If you refuse, your license will automatically be suspended for one year.
  • If you take a breath test and it shows that your blood alcohol content is .08% or more, your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of 30 days.
  • To be released from jail, bail will have to be posted.

What are the penalties for an OWI conviction in Indiana?

The penalties for a 1st OWI conviction include the following:

  • Class C Misdemeanor,
  • You will have to pay court costs and fees in excess of $300.00,
  • You may receive a jail sentence of up to one year,
  • You will be fined up to $5,000, and
  • Your license may be suspended up to 2 years, or you may be placed on probation and be required to enroll in, and pay for, a substance abuse education course. Your license may also be suspended for a minimum of 30 days followed by a 180-day probationary period in which you can only drive for employment purposes.


Additionally, if your BAC is 0.15 or greater penalties are increased:

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • Up to 1 year in jail, and
  • Up to a $5,000 fine.


If your 1st OWI conviction results in a person’s death the penalties include:

  • Class D Felony,
  • Up to 8 years in prison, and
  • Up to $10,000 in fines


Penalties for a 2nd OWI conviction, within 5 years of the first, include the following:

  • Class D Felony,
  • You will be imprisoned for a minimum of five (5) days or up to three years, and/or be required to perform community service,
  • You will be fined up to $10,000, and
  • Your license will be suspended at least 180 days and up to two (2) years.


If the 2nd OWI, within the 5 years, seriously injures another person the penalties are increased:

  • Class D Felony,
  • Up to 8 years in prison, and
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.


If your 2nd OWI conviction results in a person’s death the penalties are increased:

  • Class B Felony,
  • Up to 20 years in prison, and
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.


Penalties for a 3rd OWI conviction include the following:

  • You may be imprisoned for a minimum of ten (10) days and up to three (3) years and/or be required to perform community service,
  • You will be fined up to $10,000,
  • Your license will be suspended for a least one (1) year and may be suspended for up to ten (10) years.
  • You may be adjudged as a habitual traffic violator, and
  • You may be charged and sentenced as a habitual substance offender, for which you may be imprisoned for an additional term of one (1) year and up to an additional eight (8) years.


Other possible penalties for a drunk driving conviction in Indiana include:
·         Probation,
·         Substance Abuse Education Course,
·         Ignition Interlock Device installed on your car,
·         Attend a victim impact panel,
·         Submission to urine testing for drugs and alcohol, and
·         Other terms of probation.

Must I consent to a field sobriety test after a drunk driving arrest in Indiana?

Field sobriety tests, "FSTs", are ways in which the police officer can establish probable cause to arrest you and offer an approved test. You must take every approved blood, breath or urine test offered to you within a 3 hour period after you were operating a vehicle in order to comply with the Indiana Implied Consent Law. But you are not required to take any field sobriety tests.

You are free to respectfully decline to take any field sobriety tests, including the PBT (portable or preliminary breath test). If in doubt, ask the officer whether the test is one required by the implied consent law. Be very careful; because FSTs are not "testimonial", they are not considered self­ incriminating, and can be used against you even if you are not given the Miranda warning.

Speak to an Experienced Drunk Driving Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drunk driving lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drunk driving attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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