What Are Indiana’s Drunk Driving Laws & Penalties?

While we widely use the term “driving under the influence” (DUI) to refer to drunk driving-related accidents in the United States, Indiana officially uses the term “operating while intoxicated,” or OWI. Our state’s OWI laws prohibit all individuals from operating vehicles when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher, when they have any amount of a schedule I or II controlled substance in their system, or when they’re actually intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.

Indiana’s list of substances that fall under their schedule I and II classes include:

  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogenic drugs
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opiates

Like most other states, Indiana also has a “zero tolerance” law that makes it illegal for drivers under 21 years of age to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more. When individuals are found guilty of drunk driving, they may face numerous penalties that vary in severity depending on the offense. For example, a first offense OWI conviction is usually considered a misdemeanor and involves fines of up to $500, possible jail time, and a temporary license suspension. A felony, however, can result in imprisonment up to two and half years and up to $10,000 in fines.

Many individuals who are injured in drunk driving accidents assume they’ll be compensated in some way during these criminal charges, but this isn’t true. The one way you can get the compensation you’re entitled to after an accident is through filing a civil claim, also known as a personal injury claim.

How Intoxication Leads to Car Crashes

Alcohol can impair the mind and body in significant ways, affecting our judgment as well as our coordination – both of which all drivers rely on to navigate roads safely. Drivers are expected to operate vehicles in a safe manner, which requires alertness and the ability to act quickly when an emergency occurs. When drivers fail to do so, they’re violating the duty of care they owe other drivers on the road – this is why injured drivers and passengers are usually able to successfully file injury claims against drunk drivers.

Some of the effects alcohol has on a person’s driving include:

  • Slowed reaction times: Alcohol greatly slows down our reflexes, meaning that drivers are less likely to swerve or brake quickly to avoid a road situation like slowed traffic or a car suddenly changing lanes in front of them. Drivers may also be too slow to stop at a red light or stop sign and completely drive through them.
  • Blurred vision: Alcohol can also impair our vision, which is why the phrase “seeing double” is often associated with late nights out. This is understandably a dangerous condition to be in when you’re required to stay in your lane and look out for your surroundings.
  • Reduced concentration: Drunk drivers are also known to have decreased concentration, which is dangerous when on the road. Drunk drivers may also experience drowsiness, preventing them from noticing sudden changes or traffic signals. When drivers doze off, they can lose control of their vehicle entirely.
  • Reduced coordination: Operating a vehicle requires the ability to multitask and navigate between various movements and controls, from braking and accelerating to holding the wheel and signaling before making a lane change. Alcohol heavily hinders an individual’s coordination.
  • Impaired judgment: Drunk people are more likely to take risks and make decisions without thinking, which is why so many impaired individuals start fights or get arrested. Drunk drivers may feel tempted to speed, run red lights, or behave erratically and put others in danger.

Call Us After Serious Injury

Drunk driving crashes tend to be more devastating, meaning that injuries to others involved will likely be more serious, too. If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury, for example, you may be tens of thousands of dollars in debt as a result of needing hospitalization, surgery, and additional medication. For months after being released, you may also have to undergo physical therapy.

Our lawyers want to make sure that our clients get the full amount of compensation available to them so they can cover their costs. When you call us, we can thoroughly investigate your accident and fight for your rights.

Call for a free case evaluation regarding your injuries with our Indianapolis drunk driving accident attorneys at 317-488-5500. We can file your injury claim and get the justice you deserve.