Individuals who have experienced one DUI conviction might return to the road while under the influence of drugs or alcohol a second time. Call the Indianapolis DUI lawyers at Hessler Law today to learn about your rights and how to defend against a second DUI. It may be an innocent mistake. No one is perfect, and sometimes, one mistake can lead to a second. Finishing your beer before you head home can be all it takes to push you over the legal limit. It can also be prescription medications or fatigue that caused signs of inebriation when you were actually sober.
Indiana Second DUI Law & Penalties
Indiana takes operating a vehicle while intoxicated seriously, which is why subsequent DUIs come with stiffer penalties. The state uses a 5-year lookback period, which means another OWI or DUI within 5 years of the conviction for the first DUI is considered a second offense.
There are six felony levels in Indiana with Level 6 being the lowest charge with the least severe penalties and Level 1 being the most serious charge with the most significant punishments. A second DUI is usually a Level 6 felony and if you are convicted of a Level 6 DUI, you can be sentenced to a minimum of 6 months in jail and up to 2.5 years in jail. You can also be fined up to $10,000.
However, if a first OWI or DUI charge included serious bodily injury or the death of another, then a second offense, no matter if anyone else was injured, will be a Level 5 felony. If the second DUI offense includes serious bodily injury or death, whether or not the first conviction included these factors, the second charge will be a Level 5 felony. A Level 5 felony can be punished with 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Your second OWI or DUI charge can also become a Level 4 felony if it caused the death of another person and you had a prior DUI conviction, you were driving with a suspended license, or if you had a BAC above 0.15 percent. You can face up to 12 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for a Level 4 felony.
While an initial DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor and you might have been able to avoid jail time, a subsequent DUI will likely carry much harsher penalties. You need a skilled Indianapolis DUI lawyer who understands how to push for a lower charge or the minimum punishment upon sentencing.
How an Indianapolis DUI Attorney Can Help Reduce Your Charges
It is possible to have a Level 6 felony charge reduced to a Class A misdemeanor through a plea bargain. The judge can also sentence you to a misdemeanor penalty. This means that with an experienced Indianapolis DUI attorney working on your behalf, you may be able to have a second misdemeanor instead of a felony on your criminal record.
There is a great deal of discrimination against felons, and felony convictions can make it much harder to obtain work, go to school, receive loans, or be approved for affordable and safe housing. Pushing for another misdemeanor may be your best course of action.
Second OWI/DUI Defenses
There are many ways to attack the charges against you. No case is ever hopeless, even when there is a previous OWI/DUI conviction. Common OWI or DUI defenses in Indianapolis include:
- Probable cause: You can question whether the police had probable cause to pull you over. If you are simply driving down the road, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed or is currently underway. Otherwise, pulling you over without probable cause violated your constitutional rights.
- A constitutional checkpoint: The police are allowed to use checkpoints to look for inebriated drivers. However, these types of stops are highly regulated by the law. If the police did not follow proper procedure, the evidence from this stop may not be admissible.
- Field sobriety tests: Many people don’t know that field sobriety tests have standards for how they should be given and graded. If you were not given a standardized field sobriety test, your attorney may have this evidence thrown out.
- Breath tests: Breathalyzer tests are popular evidence of intoxication. However, these machines are not always properly calibrated or accurate.
- Blood tests: The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the police cannot force an individual to take a blood test without a warrant. If you were advised that you must take a blood test or face an additional punishment, your lawyer may be able to have this evidence deemed inadmissible.
- Legal medications: There are many legally prescribed medications that can mimic the effects of drinking such as slurred speech or lack of coordination.
Contact the Indianapolis DUI Defense Lawyers at Hessler Law Today
Facing a second DUI can be disappointing and scary. Knowing that you already have a record with one mistake on it increases the chance of a harsher punishment. But this isn’t always the case. Every person’s situation is unique and a previous Indiana DUI conviction does not guarantee that you will be sentenced to jail for months or years. There are ways to defend yourself in court and fight for the minimum penalty if you are convicted. By working with experienced Indianapolis DUI lawyers like those at Hessler Law, you have people on your side who understand the importance of fighting for your rights and freedom. Call our team of Indianapolis criminal defense attorney from Hessler Law today at (317) 886-8800.