Indiana OWI Laws and Penalties

How Indiana defines “operating while intoxicated” (OWI) and the consequences of a conviction.

By , Attorney (University of San Francisco School of Law)

In Indiana, a motorist can get an OWI for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, with any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance in the body, or while actually intoxicated (impaired) by drugs or alcohol.

Indiana also has a "zero-tolerance" law that makes it illegal for motorists under 21 years old to drive with a BAC of .02% or more.

Jail Time and Fines for Indiana OWI Convictions

In Indiana, an OWI conviction will stay on your record and count as a prior conviction forever. Here are the possible jail sentences and fines for a first, second, and third OWI conviction.

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

Jail Time

Up to 60 days (or up to 1 year with BAC of .15% or more)

6 months to 2 ½ years if at least one prior within the past seven years

6 months to 2 ½ years if at least one prior within the past seven years

Fines

Up to $500 (or up to $5,000 with BAC of .15% or more)

Up to $10,000 if at least one prior within the past five years

Up to $10,000 if at least one prior within the past five years

License Suspensions for an Indiana OWI

All Indiana drivers who are convicted of an OWI face license suspension. The possible suspension periods for a first, second, and third OWI are as follows.

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

Suspension Period

Up to 60 days (up to a year with a BAC of at least .15%)

Minimum 1 year

Minimum 1 year (10-year minimum if the priors occurred within the past 10 years)

However, an offender may be eligible for "specialized driving privileges" for driving to and from places like work and school during at least part of the suspension. The judge can require an ignition interlock device (IID) as a condition for obtaining specialized driving privileges.

Indiana's Implied Consent Laws

Indiana's "implied consent" laws specify that all motorists agree to take a chemical test (usually a blood or breath test) if lawfully arrested for driving under the influence. Motorists who refuse testing generally face a license suspension of one or two years, depending on their record.

Reducing an Indiana OWI Charge

If you're charged with driving under the influence in Indiana, it's possible to "plea bargain" for a lesser charge. "Wet reckless" refers to a plea deal where an OWI is reduced to a reckless driving charge.

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