Indianapolis DUI Lawyer
You don’t have to face time in jail and lose your driver’s license over an Indiana DUI. Attorney Sean Hessler knows how to handle your Indianapolis OWI charge properly, so you can reduce the charges, get the case dismissed, prove your innocence, or keep driving so you can get back to your life as quickly as possible.
Call Indianapolis DUI attorney Sean Hessler at (317) 886-8800 for a free, initial consult. We’ll review what happened and explain your options.
Arrested for for DUI/OWI?
Having one or two drinks after work or while out on the town with friends can easily lead to you being pulled over. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher, or if you show signs of impairment, you could be arrested for a DUI-related charge in Indianapolis.
Work with an Indianapolis DUI Attorney
As it’s referred to in Indiana, operating a vehicle while intoxicated is also known as OWI, DUI, or OVWI. Regardless of the term, OWVI can be a serious misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. It’s not something you can talk your way out of or deal with on your own. The criminal and collateral impact of a DUI on your record is best handled by a legal professional.
Because of the potentially life-altering consequences of conviction, such as limited job opportunities, an inability to drive, and possible time behind bars, it’s critical to address an Indianapolis DUI correctly right from the start.
What An Indianapolis DUI Attorney Can Do
A DUI shouldn’t ruin your life, and with an experienced lawyer’s help, you can challenge the evidence being presented and work to get your charges reduced. In some cases, we might be able to get the case dismissed altogether. At Hessler Law, we will handle the entire legal process for you, so you can put an unfortunate DUI charge in your rear-view.
Here are some of the advantages of having a DUI attorney on your side:
- Knowledge of DUI law – The laws involving DUI-related offenses are confusing. There are a number of factors that impact charges, the DUI process, and the defenses available to you. A defense lawyer with specific knowledge of Indianapolis DUI laws can answer your questions and move things along.
- DUI experience – When charged with a DUI offense, you will want a lawyer with a record of success. Attorney Hessler law has extensive experience and a long track record of representing people charged with alcohol-related offenses.
- Legal support resources – A DUI lawyer is more than just a legal professional who stands in court and speaks on your behalf. Your attorney should provide support at all stages of the legal process. If a diversion program or treatment plan can help, he’ll get you enrolled and highlight your progress to the court.
- Negotiation skills – Pleas are common in DUI cases. A good plea can result in lower fines, less time in custody, or the difference in keeping your license.
Indiana DUI Charges & Penalties
You can be charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Indiana when your blood alcohol content exceeds the state’s .08 legal limit. However, you can be charged even if your BAC does not exceed the limit, but you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs that impair your ability to drive.
When convicted of an OVWI in Indiana, the possible consequences include:
- A lengthy jail or prison sentence
- As much as $10,000 in fines
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
- Loss of a commercial driver’s license
- A permanent criminal misdemeanor or felony record that can prevent you from getting a job or renting a place to live
- Requirement to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive
- Significant increases to your car insurance rates
- Suspension or denial of a professional license, such as to practice medicine, pharmacy, nursing, teaching, or law
- Effects on your immigration status, such as denial of an immigration visa, green card, or citizenship, or possible deportation
In general, the penalties for a first DUI offense in Indiana will depend on how intoxicated the State alleges you were and whether your driving was so impaired that it put other people in danger.
- .08 to .15 BAC — When you’re convicted of an OWI with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 to .15, the offense is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
- .15 or Higher BAC — An OWI with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Reckless Driving — When you drive under the influence and your driving endangers other people, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Drugged Driving — Operating a vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. You may have a defense to a charge of OWI involving controlled substances if the substance was a validly prescribed drug.
- Under 21 — If you were under 21 and your BAC was .02 to .08, the offense is a Class C infraction with a fine of up to $500. Additionally, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to 1 year.
Your License after a DUI
In addition to jail time and fines, you face suspension of your driver’s license for 90 days to 2 years on a first offense. You may be able to get probationary or specialized driving privileges, but that will depend on the circumstances of your charge. An experienced Indiana OWI defense lawyer can review your case and explain whether probationary or specialized driving privileges might be an option for you.
If you are under the legal limit and are pulled over and charged with a DUI, understand that Indiana handles any underage DUI very seriously.
Second DUI Within Five Years
When you are convicted of a second or subsequent OWI within five years, you face felony penalties. As a Level 6 felony, a second DUI is punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If your previous conviction was for an OWI that caused serious injury or death, the offense is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury
When you drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, under the influence of drugs, or simply while intoxicated and cause another person serious physical injury, you can be charged with a felony in Indiana. It’s also important to understand that if you injure more than one person, you can be charged with separate felonies for each person who was hurt.
A first offense is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have a previous OWI conviction within the preceding 5 years, the offense is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
DUI Causing Death
When you drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, under the influence of drugs, or while intoxicated, and cause the death of another person, you face serious felony penalties in Indiana. The class of felony and possible penalties vary depending on when your offense was committed and your BAC. Additionally, you may be charged with a separate felony for each person killed.
- If you were 21 or older and you caused a death while your blood alcohol concentration was .15 or higher, the offense is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- It is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if you have a previous OWI conviction within 5 years or were driving under an OWI driver’s license suspension or revocation.
- If you were 21 or older and caused a death with a .15 or higher BAC, the offense is a Level 4 felony punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
DUI With a Minor in The Vehicle
When you are at least 21 and commit an OWI offense with a minor in your vehicle under age 18 while your BAC is .15 or higher, or you drive in a way that endangers other people, you may be charged with a felony. The class of felony and the possible penalties will depend on when your offense was committed and certain kinds of prior convictions.
A first offense is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. The offense is a Level 5 felony if you have a previous conviction within the preceding 5 years for an OWI causing serious injury or death. A Level 5 felony may be punished with 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Indiana DUI Tests & Implied Consent
Under Indiana law, when you drive a car you implicitly agree that you will submit to chemical testing when you are suspected of driving under the influence. You can face penalties if you refuse to take a certified breath or blood test that a police officer requests when there is probable cause to suspect you of drunk driving.
Refusing DUI Tests
You still have the right to refuse or to require a law enforcement officer to obtain a search warrant to take an involuntary sample, but there are consequences for a refusal that may include suspension of your driver’s license for 1 year on a first offense, or 2 years if you have a previous OVWI conviction on your record.
Certified Tests & Breath Tests
A certified DUI test is one performed at a police station by someone certified to administer breath tests, or at a hospital by someone qualified to draw your blood, and must be done within three hours of your arrest. A certified breath test is different than a handheld portable breathalyzer test that an officer may want to administer to you when he or she pulls you over, which is not a certified chemical test.
You are not required to submit to a portable breath test, and if you do the results can’t be used as evidence of your OWI — but can be used to establish that the officer had probable cause for your arrest.
Field Sobrity Tests
An officer also may want to administer roadside field sobriety tests such as the walk-and-turn test or one-leg stand test, in which the officer will try to test your motor skills and coordination to determine if you’re impaired. You are not required to submit to the field sobriety tests, and there are no consequences for your driver’s license for refusal.
If you submit to an OWI test and are over the legal limit, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that you’ll be found guilty. There are a number of ways that a qualified Indiana DUI lawyer may be able to challenge the results and help you keep your driver’s license.
Defendign Against DUI Charges
Often, people feel like their case is beyond help if they are arrested in Indianapolis for a DUI. They may believe there’s no coming back from failed DUI test or they just have to accept a suspended license. But in reality, there is a lot a lawyer can do to improve your circumstances.
Challenge the Blood or Urine Samples
There are strict guidelines about administering and using urine or blood test samples. If the prosecution intends to use the results as evidence, they bear the burden of showing that the test was administered in accordance with the Indiana Department of Toxicology guidelines.
It is common for police and staff to make a mistake or to fail to follow procedures. In addition, your blood alcohol level may increase over several hours after your last drink. Thus, if you tested slightly above the legal limit while at the police station, you were most likely under the limit at the time of your arrest.
What if You Failed a Sobriety Test?
All field sobriety tests must be administered in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If the prosecution fails to demonstrate that the arresting officer followed the NHTSA rules, the results of the field sobriety test may not be used against you. Your DUI lawyer can depose the arresting officer and determine whether he or she received proper training in the administration of field sobriety tests—many of them do not.
Additionally, your inability to complete the field sobriety test may have nothing to do with your impairment. Instead, your results could have occurred because of:
- Cold, wind, or rain
- Uneven ground
- Distracting emergency lights
- Stress, frustration, or anxiety
- Improper footwear
- Your general lack of balance or coordination
Refute Your Traffic Stop
You may be able to avoid an OWI conviction if you can demonstrate that the officer who stopped you had no lawful reason for doing so. Through a careful deposition and cross-examination of the arresting officer, it may emerge that he or she had no basis for the initial traffic stop. As a result, your OWI charges might be dropped.
For example, many drivers get pulled over because their weaving raised suspicion of impairment. However, if you are merely weaving within your lane, this is generally not a sufficient reason for pulling you over. Even if your weaving was pronounced enough to give rise to the suspicion of impairment, it can have innocent explanations, such as a mechanical defect with your vehicle or poor road conditions.
Minimize a Failed Breath Test
To successfully convict you for OWI, the state must show that the arresting officer had probable cause to administer field sobriety, Breathalyzer, or blood or urine test. The case will likely cite your glassy and bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, slow responses, and slurred speech as factors giving rise to a probable cause of your impairment.
Your attorney may be able to demonstrate that these symptoms had causes unrelated to alcohol consumption. For example, someone suffering from a cold or from fatigue may exhibit many of the same symptoms as someone who is intoxicated. Further, the smell of alcohol is not indicative of being intoxicated: most people will smell like alcohol after a single drink.
When a Breathalyzer test occurs under ideal conditions, there is a margin of error of +/- .02. If your results were only slightly over the legal limit, you may be able to escape a conviction because of the inherent inaccuracy of this sort of test. Additionally, the results of a Breathalyzer test may be inaccurately high when you’ve had cough syrup, mouthwash, or when you’ve recently consumed a small amount of alcohol.
Indiana DUI Expungement
Depending on your circumstances, you may have the option to petition for expungement of an OWI conviction in Indiana once a certain number of years have passed, even if your OWI was a felony. An expungement doesn’t erase the conviction from your record, but it can make it so that the conviction isn’t seen by potential employers or landlords and doesn’t affect your ability to get a job or rent a place to live.
You can only petition for expungement in Indiana once in your life, so make sure to use your petition wisely. A lawyer can explain your options for expungement, how an expungement might benefit you, and help you through the process.
Other DUI Topics
An OWI can seem overwhelming given the complex system and harsh penalties in Indiana. It’s natural to have questions. At Hessler Law, we want to you be well informed and encourage you to review the following.
- First DUI – The effects of a first DUI conviction can have a long-lasting impact, but a solid defense can be a big help. Learn more.
- Second DUI – A second DUI, especially one that occurred within the past five years of the first one will have be taken very seriously. Indiana uses a 5-year lookback period, which means another DUI within five years of the conviction is considered a second offense.
- CDL DUI — If you are a commercial truck driver and were arrested for an OWI and you have a CDL, contact Hessler Law to learn what your options are.
- DUI Accidents — A DUI charge is a very serious when it involves an accident. Penalties commonly include prison time as well as other consequences, such as having your license suspended or revoked.
- DUI Causing Serious Injury — If you are convicted of an OWI that caused serious bodily injury, you will have a felony on your record. There are possible defenses to this charge under Indiana law. Learn more.
- DUI Involving Drugs — DUI charges involving drugs can be difficult to fight. This is because the prosecution only needs to prove that drugs were in your system when you were operating a vehicle. Learn more about what we can do to help.
- Your Driver’s License After a DUI — Being handed a DUI or OWI can result in the following consequences when it comes to your driver’s license. Learn more.
The best way to address an Indianapolis DUI and reduce the harm to your life is to contact a DUI lawyer. Call (317) 886-8800 for a free, initial consult. We’ll review what happened and explain your options.
Call Hessler Law Today
At Hessler Law, we offer experienced Indianapolis criminal defense attorney with a track record of successfully representing people accused of OWI offenses and facing driver’s license suspensions. Our Indianapolis DUI lawyers have experience on both sides of the criminal justice system — both prosecution and defense. This gives us a unique perspective on charges such as OWI. We know the local prosecutors, clerks, and judges, and how to navigate Indianapolis courtrooms to get you the best possible outcome for your charge.
If you need help with an Indiana OWI charge, you can call us today at (317) 886-8800 for a free phone consultation of your case. It may be the difference between keeping your license and your record clear.