Indiana's Implied Consent Law and Refusal License Suspensions

Indiana Implied Consent and Refusal Suspension

In Indiana, most people know that if you get pulled over while driving impaired, you run the risk of high fines, criminal prosecution, jail time, and license suspensions. And, because of those concerns, many choose not to risk it. However, as is evident from the thousands of DUI arrests throughout the state of Indiana and around the country, many choose otherwise.
Yet, what many don’t know is that there are other additional punishments that can result depending on the decisions you make during the DUI traffic stop and arrest. In this blog the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower focus on what happens if you refuse to take a chemical test when requested to by the arresting officer. You might be surprised at how that simple decision can affect your life significantly.
According to Indiana Code 9-30-6-1, “[a] person who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to submit to the chemical test provision of this chapter as a condition of operating a vehicle in Indiana.” Of significance is the wording “impliedly consents.” In layman’s terms, if you drive a vehicle in Indiana you HAVE TO submit to a chemical test if the circumstances are met under the statute. Otherwise, the statute espouses the punishments for not doing so.
Indiana Code 9-30-6-2 goes on to state that when a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you operated a vehicle while intoxicated (I.C. 9-30-5), are involved in the Circuit Court Alcohol Abuse Deterrent Program (I.C. 9-30-9), and/or have a violation of Indiana law for an open alcoholic beverage container in your car/consumed alcohol in a motor vehicle (I.C. 9-30-15), the officer shall offer the driver a chemical test for impairment within three (3) hours of operation. However, they are not required to offer it to an unconscious person and may offer more than one chemical test as well.
The code goes on to state that should a driver refuse to submit to a chemical test, under I.C. 9-30-6-3, the refusal can be submitted as evidence of guilt against the defendant in any criminal proceeding. Because it can be introduced as evidence of guilt, it typically doesn’t make sense to refuse. Why? Because not only will they typically get a blood draw through a search warrant to test for alcohol or drugs in your system (so you are delaying the inevitable), but even if they don’t go through the hassle, it leaves the jury or judge guessing as to how drunk you were. That’s a dangerous proposition.
Furthermore, I.C. 9-30-6-7 states that if a person refuses to submit to a chemical test, the officer shall inform the person as to the possible license suspension ramifications.  This is often done by the officer reading off of an implied consent card which reads as follows (or close thereto):
“I am a police officer; I have probable cause to believe that you have operated a vehicle while intoxicated. I must now offer you the opportunity to submit to a chemical test, and inform you that your refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in the suspension of your diving privileges for one year. If you have at least one previous conviction for operating while intoxicated, your refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in the suspension of your driving privileges for two years. Will you now take a chemical test?”
More specifically er, if an individual refuses to submit to a chemical test, the bureau of motor vehicles shall suspend their driving privileges for one (1) year if they do not have a previous conviction for a DUI, or two (2) years if they do have a prior. It’s important to keep in the mind that this suspension MUST RUN FIRST, prior to any other suspension tied to the DUI. So, where the statute calls for a normal suspension of anywhere from zero (0) to two (2) years in most circumstances, those normal suspensions must run AFTER the refusal suspensions end, unless the parties agree to terminate the refusal early or stipulate no refusal occurred at all.
Nevertheless, it’s easy to see how refusing adds an enormous sanction against your license and leaving you without the ability to drive for up to twice as long as you would have been suspended. And, lastly, and unfortunately, anyone who has refused to submit to a chemical test is also precluded from receiving a specialized driving privilege, hardship license, and/or probationary license. Therefore, you are stuck without any remedy to drive.
In the end, as anyone can see, while everyone is hit with some pretty heavy punishments when they choose to drive drunk and get caught, the punishments are even harsher if you attempt to refuse a chemical test. Often times an officer will still get a BAC result through a blood draw, and even if they don’t, the refusal is still evidence of intoxication.
If you or a loved one are facing a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a refusal or without, give the experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC, a call today. Both partners at the firm used to practice in the highly respected DUI unit of prosecutors in Marion County. As such, they have the experience to help you through this difficult situation. Give us a call 24/7/365 at 317.870.0019 or email us at info@banksbrower.com.