Guide to Indiana DUI Laws
It should come as no surprise that alcohol impairs your dexterity, clouds your judgment, and slows down your reaction times. In short, it negatively affects your ability to drive.
Everybody knows this, so it shouldn’t take the looming threat of Indiana DUI laws to keep you from drunk driving. However, there are several Indiana DUI laws set up—just in case. These are intended both to punish people who are caught driving drunk, and to deter people from doing so in the first place.
Operating While Intoxicated
Indiana has written their DWI laws specifically to also accommodate people who may have drugs, but not alcohol, in their system. Street drugs, prescriptions, and even some over-the-counter medicines can affect your ability to drive just as much as alcohol, so Indiana refers to any of this as “Operating While Intoxicated,” or “OWI.” The law is also phrased so as to encompass vehicles other than cars, such as boats.
Alcohol affects different people in different ways, based on their gender, metabolism, height, weight, and a number of other factors. This is why most states—including Indiana—measure a person’s blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, to determine the severity of inebriation. In Indiana, as in the rest of the nation, if you have a BAC of 0.08%, you are not permitted to drive.
While the legal limit is set at 0.08%, it’s important for drivers to understand that alcohol affects your ability to drive even if you’re under the limit. Your judgment is already affected at 0.04%, even though you’re legally able to drive. By the time you are at a BAC of 0.06%, you are twice as likely to get into a fatal car crash as a driver who is 100% sober. Because of this, there are separate legal limits set up for drivers of commercial vehicles and drivers who are under the legal drinking age to begin with. Commercial drivers’ BAC limit is set at 0.04%, and underage drivers cannot have a BAC in excess of 0.02%.
If You Are Pulled Over
If you are suspected of being over the legal limit, the officer will likely administer a test to determine the amount of alcohol in your system. This test will measure your blood, your breath, or your urine. In Indiana, the officer gets to choose which test you will take, and you cannot consult your lawyer beforehand.
Indiana DUI Penalties
If you are found to be over the legal limit, you will have your license placed on administrative suspension for up to 180 days. If you’re convicted of Operating While Intoxicated, you could have your license suspended for an additional period of time—anywhere from 90 days to 2 years, as the court rules.
Indiana’s point system is also set up to appropriately punish drunk drivers. Points remain on a person’s record for 2 years, and if you accumulate 12 points in that time, you will be placed on probation. If you get any tickets in this probationary period, your license will be suspended. A DWI (or an OWI or DUI) will cost you 8 points.
If you are a first-time offender, it’s possible to be granted a probationary license, which would allow you certain driving privileges (going to and from work, for example). You may also get an ignition interlock device installed into your car to measure your BAC before you are able to start your engine. Keep in mind that you may also face jail time, even if it’s your first offense.
Not surprisingly, Indiana DUI penalties start to rack up for people that get convicted multiple times for OWI. If you have 2 OWI offenses within a 10-year period, you will lose your license for 10 years. Breaking the Indiana DWI laws a third or fourth time, or if you’re involved in 2 OWIs that result in a death, could get your license revoked—permanently.
The penalties don’t stop there. For breaking Indiana DWI laws, your insurance company will require you to have what’s called “high-risk insurance” for 3 years following your conviction. Naturally, high-risk insurance has a much higher premium than that for a safe driver, so expect to pay a lot more money.
After your license suspension period is up, you have to apply for reinstatement. And if you guessed that reinstatement comes with a hefty fee of its own, you’re a winner! The first time: $150. The second time: $225. And the third time: $300.
In short: along with the risks associated with drunk driving, you can expect to pay a whole lot of money to several organizations. Constantly reminding yourself of the dangers of drunk driving can keep you from harm. Some people read books on driving safety, others enroll in online traffic school—whatever you need to do in order to avoid an OWI is worth it. Because any way you look at it, breaking Indiana DWI laws just isn’t worth it.