Driving while drunk in Indiana is illegal, just like in other U.S. states. If an officer pulls you over and finds through testing that your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is at least .08%, the officer can charge you with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI).
You might think you’ll only receive minor punishments and a stern warning because it’s your first time violating the law. But the penalties for a first offense are more significant in Indiana than in some other states.
Penalties for a first offense
If a court convicts you of OWI for the first time, you can expect the following penalties:
- A prison sentence of up to a whole year, depending on how high your BAC level was during the traffic stop.
- A maximum fine of $5,000, also dependent on BAC level.
- Suspension of your license for up to two years, or
- Officials will place you on probation for 180 days, during which you’ll have to enroll in a substance abuse education course. You’re also only restricted to driving to work and the location of your required substance abuse classes.
- Even if you opt for probation and education, you still might have to deal with a 30-day license suspension.
- You might also have to attend a victim impact panel and other terms of probation.
In addition to these penalties, you’ll also have to pay court costs and fees of more than $300.
And if those penalties weren’t enough, the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles will assess eight violation points to your driver’s license. The agency can suspend your license if you commit more violations and hit 20 points. These points last two years on record.
You should never underestimate an OWI charge, even if it’s your first offense. Consider discussing your case with a legal professional to learn if your penalties can be reduced or if there’s a way to modify some punishments, such as the license suspension.