Indiana DUI Laws

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Indiana DUI laws state that anyone who is driving with a blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above can be charged with an OWI, or “operating while intoxicated.” It may be possible to get a reduction to a “wet reckless” charge, but it depends on your plea bargain. An OWI stays on your record forever.
Each year, over 10,000 people in the US are killed on the road as a result of drunk driving crashes.
Driving while under the influence—of alcohol or drugs—is a dangerous crime. Penalties vary by state, but even a first-time offense can cost the driver up to $10,000 in legal fees and fines. A DUI in Indiana will most certainly impact your car insurance rates, too.
Here’s everything you need to know about the DUI laws in Indiana, compiled by Jerry, the car insurance comparison and broker app.
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What is a DUI?

DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence whereas DWI means driving while intoxicated or impaired. In Indiana, they prefer to use the term OWI instead, which means operating while intoxicated.
A driver can be charged with an OWI for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and this includes legal drugs like prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. If you become impaired as a result of taking a substance and then get behind the wheel, you can be charged with an OWI.
Other states use different terms to mean the same thing, like OUI (operating under the influence).

OWI in Indiana

In Indiana, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of:
  • 0.08% or higher if you’re 21 or older
  • 0.04% or higher if you’re driving a commercial vehicle
  • 0.02% or higher if you’re under the age of 21
These requirements apply to any motor vehicle. Note that even if you don’t feel drunk and aren’t driving recklessly, you can still be charged with an OWI if your BAC is above the legal limit.
A “wet reckless” charge is possible if the court is willing to reduce your charge. This means you will be charged with reckless driving connected to drugs or alcohol—but not an actual OWl. This comes with the same penalties as a reckless driving conviction, but you’ll also pay a $200 “alcohol and drug countermeasures” fee.
Key Takeaway There is zero tolerance for minors driving under the influence. People under the age of 21 may not carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless a parent is present and the container is unopened, full, and sealed.
Each state has an implied consent law which says that you consent to be tested if an officer suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you are lawfully arrested for an OWI, you are required to submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. Indiana drivers who refuse to be tested can be penalized with lengthy license suspensions or even revocation of their license.
You do not have the right to consult with legal counsel before taking the test. In Indiana, the refusal penalty is a two-year license suspension if you already have an OWI on record. With no prior convictions, it’s a one-year license suspension for refusal.

Penalties for an OWI in Indiana

Penalties for OWIs are stringent and the conviction will remain on your driving record for five or 10 years. The exact consequences will depend on the number and type of prior convictions on your record.

First conviction

In Indiana, a first offense OWI for a driver 21 and older could result in the following penalties.
Fine$500 to $5,000
Jail60 days to one year
License suspensionUp to two years
Vehicle impoundmentNo
SR-22 requirementYes
For an underage OWI, here are the penalties for a first conviction.
Fine$500 to $5,000
JailUp to one year
License suspensionUp to one year
Vehicle impoundmentNo
SR-22 requirementYes
The state may require that you complete a DUI or OWI program. The length of the program will depend on the severity of your conviction.

Subsequent convictions

FineUp to $10,000
JailUp to three years
License suspensionUp to two years
Vehicle impoundmentNo
SR-22 requirementYes
After a second conviction, the state can require you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, which will prevent you from starting the car if there is any alcohol on your breath.
If you are convicted of an OWI again, you will be subject to increased penalties. These could include serious fines (up to $10,000), up to 20 years in prison if someone died, an ignition interlock device, up to 10-year license revocation, and even forfeiture of your vehicle.
It may be possible for you to obtain a restricted license that permits you to drive when necessary (i.e., to work) if you agree to:
  • Complete the prescribed program
  • Pay the reissue and restriction fees to the state
Key Takeaway Minimum penalties are usually increased if you had a very high blood alcohol concentration or if you were involved in an accident where someone was injured—even for a first conviction.
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Does an OWI impact car insurance in Indiana?

Yes, insurance companies pay close attention to DUI and OWI convictions. You will be classified as a high-risk driver whether it was a misdemeanor or a felony. It’s a felony if you had a prior conviction in the past five years.
It may be challenging to find insurance with a DUI or OWI on record, so the best strategy is to shop around. The Jerry app can compare rates from up to 50 top insurance companies—in just 60 seconds—so you don’t have to deal with sales calls or fill out lengthy online forms.
With a DUI or OWI on your record, expect substantially higher rates than your previous payment.
For very serious convictions—like vehicular homicide—you may need to find an insurance company that can file an SR-22 on your behalf. This confirms that you have the state-mandated minimum insurance, and it’s required before you are allowed to drive.

Other effects of an OWI

On top of the penalties and higher insurance rates, you could face additional consequences due to an OWI conviction.
License revocation: After a DUI charge, you may have your license revoked if you were charged with other serious offenses—like endangerment.
Ignition interlock device: Every state has a version of the ignition interlock program which requires drivers with a DUI conviction to install this device in their vehicle. It can disable your engine if any alcohol is detected on your breath.
Background checks: An OWI will show up on your background check. This means that future employers may see your conviction, and it could jeopardize your job prospects, especially if you work in a field that requires you to drive commercial vehicles.

How to find cheap insurance after an OWI

Jerry is the easiest and most effective way for someone with an OWI conviction in Indiana to find a customized car insurance policy.
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