The Indiana DUI Guide

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For Attorneys







Portable Breath Test

Implied Consent

Suspensions and


BMV Hearings

Preliminary Breath Test






What is the difference between a DUI, OWI, OVWI, DWI, OVI, OUI, DWAI, OUI, etc.?

These terms are all acronyms that refer to the offense commonly known as "drunk driving."  Different states have slightly different names for the crime.  For example, in Texas the charge is known as driving while intoxicated or DWI. 

Indiana law uses the phrase "operating a vehicle while intoxicated" so the terms
OVWI or OWI or OVI are often used.  However, many Indiana residents continue to use the term DUI to refer to the same offense.  DUI or "driving under the influence" is the acronym most commonly used throughout the United States.  The terms OWI, OVWI, and DUI are used interchangeably throughout this website.


I just got arrested for an Indiana DUI offense.  What happens now?


ISSUE ONE:  The Indiana Implied Consent Proceeding:  Under Indiana law, a person who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to submit to the chemical test provisions of this chapter as a condition of operating a vehicle.  IC 9-30-6-1. 


If you failed (BAC .08  or greater; lower for minors) or refused to submit to a chemical (usually a breath) test, your Indiana drivers license (or your right to drive in Indiana if you're not a licensed driver) will likely be suspended for anywhere from 180 days to up to two years.



ISSUE TWO:  The Indiana DUI / OWI Criminal Case:  Separate from the administrative (implied consent) suspension  is the criminal charge for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.  Under Indiana law, it is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle:

(1) With a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater (sometimes referred to as a "per se" offense); or
(2) With a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance in their body (unless taken pursuant to a valid prescription); or
(3) While intoxicated.

"Intoxicated" means under the influence of:  (1) alcohol; (2) a controlled substance (as defined in IC 35-48-1); (3) a drug other than alcohol or a controlled substance; (4) a substance described in IC 35-46-6-2 or IC 35-46-6-3; or (5) a combination of substances described in (1) through (4); so that there is an impaired condition of thought and action and the loss of normal control of your faculties.

Important:  The implied consent suspension and the criminal DUI / OWI case are completely separate proceedings from one another. 


Will my Indiana drivers license be suspended or revoked?


RELATED TO ISSUE ONE ABOVE:  Your Indiana drivers license (or your right to drive in Indiana if you do not have a valid Indiana license) may be suspended under implied consent law for failing or for refusing a certified chemical test.



RELATED TO ISSUE TWO ABOVE:  If you are convicted of the OWI offense, you will also lose your license (or your right to drive in Indiana if you don't have a valid Indiana license) for a year or more.  This suspension is separate and distinct from the implied consent suspension.  Talk to your Indiana DUI attorney for possible suspension lengths for your situation.



Also keep in mind that your license can be suspended for a variety of reasons unrelated to a OWI arrest e.g. excessive points on your license, etc.


What happens if I get caught operating with a suspended license?


Driving while your license is under suspension should be avoided as it is a new new misdemeanor crime.  Penalties include fines, possible jail time, and an additional license suspension.  Further, if you are on probation for the DUI offense when you're arrested for operating while suspended, you will face a probation violation allegation as well.


I really need to drive.  Will I be able to get a hardship permit / probationary driving privileges?


Probationary driving privileges may be available to you if you took a chemical (breath) test.  Put another way, these privileges are not available if you refused a certified chemical test.  Probationary driving privileges allow driving only under the following circumstances: 

  • to and from your place of employment;

  • for specific purposes in exceptional circumstances; and

  • to and from court ordered treatment.

You must serve at least 30 days of your suspension before becoming eligible.  Talk to your Indiana DUI lawyer about whether and when you may qualify for probationary driving privileges.


Is a DUI / OWI offense in Indiana a misdemeanor or felony charge?


In Indiana, a OWI is typically a misdemeanor offense.  However, an Indiana OWI becomes a felony offense if you commit an OWI and one of the following apply:

  • you have a prior OWI conviction in the past five years; or

  • you're 21 years of age or older and you have a passenger younger than 18 years of age; or

  • you have a previous conviction of operating while intoxicated while causing death; or

  • you have a previous conviction of operating while intoxicated while causing serious bodily injury.

What type of penalties might I face if I am convicted of an Indiana DUI charge?


Upon conviction of an Indiana DUI offense, a defendant can receive a variety of penalties including probation.  A range of minimum penalties is set forth below: 



  • fines and fees;
  • an Indiana license suspension of 90 days to two years;
  • jail possible but not required.
  • fines and fees;
  • an Indiana license suspension of 180 days to two years if the prior OWI conviction is between 5 - 10 years old [if the prior conviction is less than 5 years old, the court must order at least a one year suspension];
  • at least five days jail or 180 hours of community restitution or service;
  • alcohol / drug abuse assessment and treatment.
  • fines and fees;
  • at least 10 days jail or 360 hours of community restitution or service;
  • alcohol / drug abuse assessment and treatment.

Will I be placed on probation if I'm convicted of a Indiana DUI?

Yes.  If you're convicted of an Indiana DUI / OWI offense you will be placed on probation for some period of time.  You will need to comply with the following standard conditions of probation:

  • Obey all laws. 

  • Report any arrest or criminal charge to your Probation Officer within 24 hours.

  • Report to the Probation Department as directed. 

  • Permit your probation officer to visit your home and elsewhere at reasonable times.

  • Abide by any curfew imposed.

  • Notify your Probation Officer in writing within 48 hours of any change in address or telephone.

  • Do not leave the State of Indiana without written permission of your Probation Officer.

  • Do not carry, use or possess any firearm, destructive device, or dangerous weapon if convicted of a felony.

  • Do not consume alcohol.

  • Do not consume, inhale or inject controlled substances unless prescribed to you by a physician. 

  • Submit to drug / alcohol tests at your own expense at the request of the Probation Department or when otherwise directed.

  • Maintain or seek suitable employment or pursue a course of study or vocational training and shall attend GED or other classes as directed. 

  • Notify your Probation Officer in writing of any changes in employment or educational status within 48 hours.

  • Successfully complete, at your own expense, and provide proof of completion of any substance abuse treatment, counseling, education and a victim impact program directed by your Probation Officer. 

Will my defense lawyer be able to plea bargain / negotiate my Indiana OWI charge down to another (lesser) offense?

Perhaps.  Negotiating a client's case with the prosecutor is something that your Indiana OWI lawyer can advise you about.  In some cases, your only option will be to plead to the OWI / DUI charge or take your case to trial.

Will an Indiana DUI conviction go on "my driving record?"

Yes.  An OWI / DUI conviction will go on your Indiana driving record and will stay on your record forever.  You cannot expunge an Indiana DUI conviction.

Just how much jail / prison time will I have to do if I am convicted of a DUI in Indiana?

The amount of incarceration (jail or prison) received for a Indiana DUI conviction will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the following:

•  your prior driving record especially your OWI / DUI history (including any DWI's / DUI's outside of the State of Indiana);

•  your level of intoxication / blood alcohol content (BAC's of 0.15 or greater are more serious under Indiana law);

•  whether there was a collision involved;

•  whether there was bodily injury to another person in the collision;

•  which Indiana court your case is in;

•  what judge you are sentenced by;

•  whether there was a passenger / child in your car;

•  whether the court feels you have accepted responsibility for your actions.


I am licensed to drive in a state other than Indiana and I was arrested for a DUI in Indiana.  Will my drivers license be suspended?

The State of Indiana only has the authority to suspend or revoke your right to drive in Indiana.  However, Indiana and 44 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted an agreement known as the "Driver License Compact."  IC 9-28-1.  Indiana will report an OWI / DUI conviction to your home state (assuming your home state has also adopted the Compact).  Your home state will then generally take action to suspend or revoke your license.

This also works in reverse.  If you are an Indiana licensed driver and you are convicted of a DUI / DWI charge in another state, Indiana will suspend your license if it learns of the conviction. 

What happens if I was on probation when I got arrested for my Indiana DUI offense?

Committing a new crime while you're on probation for a previous crime creates at least two problems.  First, you face the new Indiana DUI / OWI charge.  Second, you face a probation violation hearing for failing to obey all laws (a standard condition of any probation).  The most serious scenario is when you receive a new Indiana OWI / DUI when you're already on probation for a previous OWI / DUI conviction.  When this happens, its in your best interest to speak to a Indiana DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

Will I have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on my car?


An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breath alcohol measuring device that is connected to your motor vehicle ignition.  In order to start the vehicle, a driver must blow a breath sample into the device which then measures alcohol concentration.  If the alcohol concentration exceeds the startup set point on the interlock device (.02 percent), the vehicle will not start.


Under current law, you will have to install an ignition interlock device in your car if the judge orders you to do so.  However, the Indiana legislature is currently considering legislation that may substantially increase the number of persons who must install the devices.  Contact an Indiana DUI lawyer to see if this requirement applies to your situation.

What will an Indiana DUI / OWI do to my insurability?

If your insurance company finds out about an OWI / DUI conviction one of two things are likely to happen.  Either your insurer will raise your insurance rates or you may be cancelled or non-renewed.  Your insurance company will most definitely find out about your DUI if you have to obtain SR-22 insurance.  

I'm not a United States citizen.  Will an Indiana OWI conviction result in my removal from this country?

Probably not.  Typical, run of the mill Indiana DUI offenses (no priors; no injuries) are not considered crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies resulting in removal.  It is important to consult an experienced immigration lawyer about your situation just as you should consult with an experienced Indiana criminal defense lawyer about your pending DUI / OWI charge. 

Keep two points in mind.  First, it is very important to answer honestly all questions about prior arrests / convictions on immigration and Visa applications and forms.  Lying on these forms is often considered more serious than any OWI / DUI conviction.  Second, non-citizens must take extra care not to drive on a suspended or revoked license.

Are there any concerns for a licensed pilot who gets an Indiana OWI?


Yes.  The FAA has special reporting requirements for certain Motor Vehicle Actions including Indiana OWI / DUI convictions and certain implied consent suspensions.  Learn more about FAA requirements here.

I missed my Indiana court appearance.  What do I do now?

Failing to appear (FTA) for court is to be avoided.  When you miss a court appearance, bad things follow.  At a minimum, the Indiana court typically issues a warrant for your arrest (commonly known as a bench warrant).  You may also face a new charge known as failure to appear.  This offense is a misdemeanor if you failed to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge; the offense is a felony if you failed to appear in court for a felony offense. 

Talk to an attorney as soon as possible.  Your lawyer may be able to schedule a hearing to get the warrant recalled.  Sometimes, your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding warrant.  A new court date will then be scheduled.

Failing to appear / respond to a traffic citation and failing to pay for tickets after a judgment of conviction has been entered will also lead to the suspension of a your driving privileges.  Upon receipt of a certification from an Indiana court that you have not appeared in court or paid for a traffic offense, the BMV is required to suspend your driving privileges.  This suspension is indefinite and ends only when you provide to the BMV proof of either appearing in court or paying for the offense.  More information here.

Can I represent myself on my Indiana OWI / DUI and my other criminal charge(s)?

Yes.  You have an absolute constitutional right to represent yourself on any criminal charge no matter how serious the offense including a Indiana DUI offense.  Keep in mind that Indiana law is complex as shown by the information here.  If you cannot afford to hire your own OWI / DUI lawyer, you definitely should apply for a court appointed attorney to represent you.  You have no right to court appointed counsel at the implied consent license proceeding.

Copyright 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

Websites, including this one, provide general Indiana OWI / DUI / OVWI / DWI information but do u>not provide legal advice or create an attorney / lawyer / client relationship.  General information cannot replace legal advice specific to your case, problem, or situation.  Consult qualified Indiana Drunk Driving - DUI - OWI - OVWI - DWI lawyers / attorneys for advice about any specific problem or any OWI / DUI charge that you face.  Indiana attorneys are governed by the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct.  This website may be considered an advertisement for services under these Rules.  Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way.  No lawyer associated with this website is specialized or certified in any way.  This site is not a solicitation; rather, it is purely informational.  Indiana OWI / DUI lawyers provide drunk driving (DUI) and criminal defense assistance to the communities of: Indianapolis, Bloomington, Terra Haute, Anderson, Fort Wayne, Evansville, South Bend, Gary, Hammond, Muncie, and Marion County, Hamilton County, Lake County, St. Joseph County, Allen County. Indiana lawyers and attorneys may accept Visa, American Express, and MasterCard credit cards. 

.07% .08% .09% .10% .11% .12% .13% .14% .15% .16% .17% .18% .19% .20% .21% .22% .23% .24% .25% .26% .  First Indiana DUI, Second DUI, Third DUI, Fourth OWI, Misdemeanor Felony Indiana OWI DUI Offense.  2013


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