Beware the Penalties of Multiple DUIs

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The term DUI is actually a bit of a misnomer in Indiana. In Indiana, we call it Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated, or “OVWI”. State governments take OVWI very seriously and therefore implemented a penalty structure that increases the minimum punishment for picking up multiple OVWIs in one’s lifetime. While some aspects of the penalty are aimed at rehabilitation of any underlying drinking habits, others are aimed at protecting society from the dangers of drunk drivers, and some are even geared towards punishment.

There are some basic elements that are required by law to be in any OVWI sentence.

  • First, is a “victim impact panel” you must attend, either in-person or virtually. At the end of this panel you receive a certificate which will be required as proof of completion.
  • Second, is an “alcohol evaluation and treatment”. This is where you sit down with an assessor who interviews you about your alcohol use and determines if any treatment is necessary. This provision of the penalty includes completion of any treatment recommended as a result of that interview.
  • Third, there is the $200.00 Countermeasure fee. This is a fee the legislature put in place to help fund law enforcement’s efforts in preventing crime with substance use components.

These are all statutory requirements of any OVWI sentence.

If it is your first OVWI, then it will be a misdemeanor. While you will probably spend the night in jail when you are initially arrested, no jail time is required as part of a final sentence. However, the state can ask for jail time and the judge can order jail time if they want to. The highest level of misdemeanor is an A Misdemeanor, and this could be a sentence of up to 365 days in jail. This time can also be served on probation. The State can also ask for a license suspension but the judge is not required to order it.

If it is your second OVWI, then it could be a Level 6 Felony. If the second OVWI is within 7 years of your prior OVWI, then it gets bumped up to a level 6 Felony. This carries a possible penalty of up to 910 days in jail. A required term of a second OVWI, regardless how long after the first one it occurs, is 5 days in jail. If you have one OVWI in 1995 and get a second in 2021, the prior is still considered and the 5 days are required. A second OWI in one’s lifetime also requires a license suspension of 365 days. If your current OVWI involves a refusal of a chemical test and you have a prior OWI that involved a refusal, it is a 730-day license suspension.

If you acquire three or more OVWIs in your lifetime, there is a requirement of 10 days in jail. The judge is also required to suspend you driver’s license for 730 days. If this is within 7 years of any prior OVWI then it will also be a Level 6 Felony. All OVWIs also go towards possible status as a habitual traffic violator which could result in a more significant license suspension, up to even a lifetime suspension.

If you have been charged with OVWI then give us a call here at Banks and Brower (317) 870-0019 where you can get a real consultation with a real attorney before deciding what is best for you.