Indiana DUI Laws & Penalties

Alcohol impairs your driving ability. It doesn’t allow you to make clear judgments and to have a full control over your actions. Alcohol abuse has led to many vehicle accidents in the past resulting with bodily harm and deaths. That’s why all the US states, including Indiana, have laws for preventing operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Indiana DUI laws clarify what is allowed, what is not allowed, and how violation of DUI laws will be punished.

The Indiana drivers, nevertheless, never stopped driving under influence. That’s why the legislation is being changed from time to time, with laws and penalties becoming stricter than ever. Intoxicated drivers put in danger the health and lives of everyone involved in the traffic, therefore the government takes serious measures to tackle their disobedience.

What is a DUI in Indiana?

You are responsible for DUI driving in Indiana if you operate with a vehicle while intoxicated. Not complying with this rule leads to punishments. The Indiana DUI laws set a threshold of alcohol in your blood (BAC) that you need to meet in order to be responsible for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The thresholds are as follows:

  • 0.02% for drivers under 21 years old.
  • 0.04% for commercial license drivers.
  • 0.08% for all other drivers.
  • 0.15% or more is an aggravated limit and leads to enhanced penalties.

As long as your BAC reaches these thresholds, you are guilty of DUI. You don’t have to feel drunk, nor the police officer has to test you in another way to prove your impairment. This is called a “per se” law, which in your situation means that even if your driving is not significantly impaired by your BAC of 0.08% or over, you are still guilty for driving under influence.

However, even if the breathalyzer test doesn’t show these number, you can still end up with DUI charges. That could happen in two cases due to the following laws:

Open container law. If you have an open bottle or any other kind of container filled with alcohol, you’ll be charged with DUI. It doesn’t matter whether you are drunk or not. Open containers with alcohol or prohibited and lead to DUI penalties in Indiana.

Implied consent law. According to this law, at the moment when you started the car, you have expressed your consent to do a chemical test whenever a police officer requests so. If you have been pulled over and the officer asks you to do it, you are obliged to comply. If you refuse, you are responsible for DUI. The penalties for breathalyzer or chemical test refusal are harsher than those when you submit to it.

What Happens If You Are Pulled Over?

 When you are pulled over and the police officer thinks that you may be operating your vehicle intoxicated, he may ask you to do a chemical testing. The officer can choose what kind of test you’ll do. He can check out your blood, urine, and breath, and you can’t consult a lawyer beforehand. You have a duty to do the test and can’t refuse it. If you refuse, you are automatically guilty of DUI and you’ll get punished anyway.
 

Also, you may be handcuffed and taken to the police station, your car will be searched and towed at your expense. 

What Are the Penalties for DUI Offenses in Indiana?

Penalties for driving under influence in Indiana depend on how many times you have committed a DUI before. Your first DUI offense will be punished less harshly than the next subsequent offenses.

Indiana has a “wash out” period of five years, which means that your second DUI offense will be considered as a subsequent only if it is committed in a five-year period after the first one. If you drive under influence in six years after your first DUI, this offense will be counted as if it was first.

The penalties for DUI offenses in Indiana are as follows:

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First DUI offense in Indiana

Your first DUI offense in Indiana is a Class C misdemeanor. It leads to the following punishments:

  • Fines of up to $500.
  • 30 to 60 days in jail.
  • Driving license suspension of 90 days to 2 years. After 30 days the court may grant a restricted driving license with or without an ignition interlock device installed.
  • A possible ignition interlock device restriction for a period no longer than the jail time the jail time the court could have imposed.
  • A possible alcohol and drugs abuse assessment and treatment.
  • Indiana DUI classes.
  • IN SR22 insurance required.

If your BAC was 0.15% or over, that’s a Class A misdemeanor and lead to heavier penalties. You can expect the same ones as for the Class C misdemeanor, except for the fines and jail time, which are:

  • Fines of up to $5000.
  • Jail time of up to one year.

Second DUI Offense in Indiana

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated for the second time within five years after the first one means that you’ll be punished for a second DUI offense. This is a Class D felony and the court will impose the following penalties:

  • Up to $10000 in fines.
  • Between 5 days and 2 years in jail.
  • Driving license suspension between 180 days and 2 years. The court may grant a restricted driving license with an ignition interlock device installed, but not before 180 days of the suspension have passed.
  • A possible ignition interlock device restriction for a period no longer than the jail time the jail time the court could have imposed.
  •  Mandatory 180 hours of community service.
  •  A possible alcohol and drugs abuse assessment and treatment.
  •  DUI education classes.
  •  Indiana SR22 insurance required for three years after the conviction.

Third DUI Offense in Indiana

If the penalties from the previous two DUI offenses haven’t resulted in improvement of the offender’s driving behavior in the five-year period, the state of Indiana will penalize them much harsher. The third offense is considered a Class D felony and leads to the following:

  • Up to $10000 in fines.
  •  Between 10 days and 3 years in jail.
  •  Driving license suspension between one and ten years with no possibility for a restricted driving license.
  •  A possible ignition interlock device restriction for a period no longer than the jail time the jail time the court could have imposed.
  •  Mandatory 360 hours of community service.
  •  A possible alcohol and drugs abuse assessment and treatment.
  •  Indiana DUI course.
  •  A possibility of being declared as a habitual traffic violator.
  •  IN SR22 insurance required for three years after the conviction.

Refusing Chemical Testing in Indiana

Some drivers think that refusing the chemical test may save them from penalties, but that’s not true. If you refuse to be tested, you won’t avoid penalties. Moreover, you’ll be punished more severely.

In addition to all the other penalties, your first-time refusal will also lead to:

  • Driving license suspension of at least one year.
  •  IN SR22 insurance required for three years after the conviction.

Your next refusals in a five-year washout period mean:

  • Driving license suspension of at least two years.
  • IN SR22 insurance required for three years after the conviction.

These enhanced penalties will be added to the standard penalties that apply already.

Habitual Traffic Violators in Indiana

A habitual traffic violator (HTV) is a person who:

  •  Commit three major offenses (including DUI/OWI) within a period of 10 years.
  •  Commit two major offenses resulting in an injury or death (including a homicide due to DUI/OWI) within a period of 10 years.
  •  Accumulate 10 moving violations including one major offense within a period of 10 years.
  •  Drives with a license that has been suspended due to HTV.

From a DUI perspective, it is important to note that if you are a habitual traffic violator, the court can suspend your driving license for life. Two major offenses with 0.08% BAC that result in injury or death are enough to cause such a consequence.

How to Reinstate Your Suspended Driving License in Indiana?

Reinstating a suspended driving license in Indiana is not as simple as in some other US states. There are four steps to reinstating it:

  1. Determine the requirements for reinstating. Normally, the requirements will be written on your Driver Record. It includes the earliest date when you are eligible to request reinstation. If your license is suspended for an indefinite period, contact the court for the requirements.
  2. Get an IN-SR22 Insurance. And once you get it, your insurance company must submit a proof to the BMV that you have paid it. Keep in mind that the BMV doesn’t accept insurance submitted by drivers, but only by companies.
  3. Pay the reinstatement fees. The exact amount is listed in your driver’s record. The fees vary from one branch to another but are never small.
  4. Meet the other requirements. Ensure that you go through all the requirements from your driver’s record and fulfill them all. You won’t get your license back unless you do it.

When you complete all these steps, and your driving license is not expired, invalidated, or revoked, you’ll have it back.