Some people think of drunk driving charges, they often picture horrifying vehicle crashes. They may also think of large-scale sobriety checkpoints, which are legal for police officers to operate in Indiana with the right procedures and paperwork.
However, a significant portion of the OWI offenses that occur in Indiana each year are the result of individual traffic enforcement efforts rather than a crash or an OWI roadblock. Drivers can get arrested because their driving is objectively terrible or because an officer starts to suspect intoxication during a traffic stop initiated for another purpose.
How do drivers get arrested for an OWI when they haven’t displayed impairment at the wheel?
The legal limit applies regardless of driving skill
Many drivers don’t understand the rules that govern drunk driving infractions. Specifically, they may fail to comprehend that it is the act of exceeding the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and not the effects that the alcohol has on driving that will make it illegal to get behind the wheel.
Someone who drinks frequently and has an incredibly high alcohol tolerance may feel like they can drive home after multiple rounds of drinks with friends. While they may not display impairment, if a police officer pulls them over for not using a turn signal or driving too fast, the officer may notice the smell of alcohol and request a breath test. If someone is over the legal limit, an officer can arrest them regardless of how well they drove.
Indiana’s per se OWI law makes it a crime to have a BAC higher than 0.08% even if you don’t demonstrate signs of impairment while driving. An officer doesn’t need evidence that you drove poorly or failed a field sobriety test to arrest you. They only need a chemical test that shows you were over the legal limit.
How do you fight back?
There are numerous ways to avoid a conviction when facing OWI charges. You can ask the court to consider the validity of the traffic stop itself. You could review the maintenance and calibration records for the breath test unit used in your case and claim that it wasn’t an accurate test.
Learning more about Indiana’s drunk driving laws will help you mount a defense if you find yourself facing OWI charges.