OWI Laws in Indiana

Some important information about OWI law in Indiana.

In Indiana, you can get an OWI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated), sometimes called a DUI, if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher or have any illegal drugs in your system, regardless of whether your driving ability was actually impaired. However, you can also get an OWI if you drive a vehicle while intoxicated to a degree that you are in an “impaired condition of thought and action" and are experiencing a "loss of normal control" of faculties. Intoxication can be from ingesting alcohol, drugs, or any combination of the two.

And the law in Indiana says that if you’re driving a vehicle, you’ve given consent to submit to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol in your blood. Here are some details on the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test in Indiana and other details about Indiana OWI law.

In Indiana, what are the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test (usually a breathalyzer or blood test) when suspected of OWI?

Here are the consequences for not taking a breathalyzer or blood test in Indiana, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

1 year suspension of license

2 year suspension of license

2 year suspension of license

In Indiana, when do police have to measure your BAC?

In Indiana, law enforcement officers are supposed to measure your BAC within three hours of when you were driving. However, prosecutors may be able to prove your culpability for an OWI even if your BAC is taken later than this time.

What is the maximum BAC for drivers under 21 in Indiana?

In Indiana, the maximum BAC for drivers who are under 21 (considered minors under some drinking and driving laws) is .02%. For drivers under age 21 who are caught driving with a BAC of .02% or higher, a judge may recommend up to a one year license suspension.

What are the minimum jail times for a OWI in Indiana?

Here are the minimum jail times for a OWI in Indiana, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

No minimum required jail

5 days jail or 180 hours of community service

10 days jail or 360 hours of community service

How long will prior OWI convictions remain relevant for sentencing purposes in Indiana?

In Indiana, prior OWI convictions stay on your record (and can be counted against you when you are being sentenced for another OWI offense) forever. And an OWI is a level 6 felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor) if you've had OWI within the last five years.

Can an OWI be “pleaded down” to a "wet reckless" in Indiana?

In Indiana, it's possible for a person who's charged with operating while intoxicated to "plea bargain" for a lesser charge. When an OWI charge is negotiated down to a reckless driving charge, it's sometimes called a "wet reckless."

(Read about Indiana's reckless driving laws and the penalties for a conviction.)

Are ignition interlock devices (IIDs) required for convicted OWI offenders in Indiana?

No, but if a driver whose license has been suspended is granted a restricted license (called "specialized driving privileges" in Indiana), the judge can require an IID as a condition of the restricted license.

Where can I get more information about OWI laws in Indiana?

Nolo's DUI/DWI topic has many helpful articles, including a Drunk Driving, DUI, and DWI FAQ. For more help after a OWI arrest, see Nolo's Lawyer Directory, where you can view in-depth profiles of Indiana OWI attorneys in your area.

For more information about the legal limit, see the Blood Alcohol Level Chart

Last updated on 02/18/2016.

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