Legal Blog

What Does a 3rd DUI Mean for You in Indiana?

31 January 2023 | OWI,  

Attorney Sean Hessler

Written by
Sean Hessler

31 January 2023


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Getting a DUI can be stressful, especially if you’ve had multiple in the past. A third DUI can result in severe penalties that are made even worse if there are aggravating factors. However, you could possibly avoid some of the harshest penalties when you work with an experienced DUI lawyer who can guide you through the legal process.

What Happens When You Get a Third DUI?

A DUI, also called “operating while intoxicated” (OWI) in Indiana, involves a person driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. You may have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08% or higher. Alternatively, you may have any amount of Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances in your system.

When you get pulled over for drinking and driving, the police officer will determine if you are intoxicated. If they have reason to believe you have been operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, then they will arrest you and take you to jail for booking.

You should never talk to the police or answer their questions about where you have been or what you have been doing. They will ask you how much you’ve had to drink. Tell them you do not want to answer questions until you speak to a lawyer. You have a right to remain silent. If you say anything, it will be used against you, even if you think your statement will help you get out of the situation.

Here’s what will happen after you are arrested for a third DUI:

  • You will be taken to the police station, booked, and cited for a DUI.
  • You will likely be allowed to post bail and get out of jail.
  • If you are arrested on the weekend, you must stay in jail until at least Monday.
  • You must return to court for an arraignment to present your charges.
  • You will have an opportunity to plead guilty or negotiate a plea bargain.
  • You will have the option to proceed to trial with evidence that you were not driving intoxicated.
  • A judge or jury will determine if you were driving while intoxicated.
  • If you are found not guilty, you will be released immediately.
  • If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced and receive criminal penalties for your DUI.

What Criminal Penalties Might You Face?

If you are found guilty of a third DUI, you will face more stringent penalties than you did with your prior convictions. A third OWI offense in Indiana is typically a level 6 felony if it occurs within five years of previous DUI convictions. There are some exceptions.

For a level 6 felony OWI, you will face between six months and two and a half years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. If the courts decide to suspend imprisonment, there is still a minimum jail term of 10 days or 480 hours of community service.

Your driver’s license will also be suspended for up to the maximum period of incarceration.

What Aggravating Factors Could Enhance Your DUI Penalties?

While a third DUI is typically a level 6 felony, some factors aggravate the situation (or make it worse), which results in more significant penalties.

If you have a previous OWI that caused death or serious bodily injury to another person, then you will be charged with a level 5 felony. That could result in between one year and six years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $10,000.

Other aggravating factors include:

  • BAC of .15% or more
  • Driving a vehicle in a manner that endangered another person
  • Passenger under the age of 18 at the time of the DUI

In most cases, these additional aggravating factors will still result in a level 6 felony; however, they can cause the court to impose stricter penalties.

What Are Some Additional Consequences of a Third DUI?

When you get a third DUI, there are additional consequences you may face other than jail time, community service, driver’s license suspension, and fines.

Vehicle Seizure

If you have had two or more OWI convictions within the previous five years, the court may order a seizure of your vehicle. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will not register your car in your name until you possess a valid driver’s license.

Ignition Interlock Device

You may regain driving privileges earlier if you agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. It is required for 60 days for a third DUI offender. That period is extended for individuals with a BAC of over .15%.

Drug & Alcohol Treatment Program

All third DUI offenders in Indiana must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. If that test indicates you abuse substances, then you may be required to complete a treatment program. You may also be required to complete an alcohol deterrent program.

Victim Impact Program

All OWI offenders must go through a victim impact program (VIP) and pay for the cost of that program. This involves listening to a panel of speakers who have been affected by DUI situations. You must also visit an emergency medical facility, coroner’s facility, or chronic alcoholism treatment center.

Contact a DUI Defense Lawyer If You’re Charged with a Third OWI

OWI charges in Indiana can be severe, especially if this is your third offense within five years. You need to get solid legal advice from a trusted DUI defense lawyer who can guide you through the situation. We will do everything possible to keep you out of jail and reduce your penalties.

Call Hessler Law, PC today at (317) 886-8800 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer for your specific situation.