Indiana Drunk Driving Laws, Penalties, and Consequences

Learn about the penalties for an OWI/DUI conviction in Indiana.

Indiana officially uses the term “operating while intoxicated” (OWI) instead of “driving under the influence” (DUI). However, some people still use DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) to refer to drunk or drugged driving.

Indiana’s OWI laws prohibit all motorists from 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 their system, or
  • while actually intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.

The extensive list of controlled substances under the schedule I and II classifications includes opiates, hallucinogenic drugs, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Indiana also has a “zero tolerance” law that makes it illegal for underage drivers (those under 21 years old) to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more.

Indiana Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Per Se DUIs

Generally, a drunk driving offense based on blood alcohol level—as opposed to the driver’s level of impairment—is known as a “per se” OWI. (Unlike some other states, Indiana also has per drug OWI laws, as noted above.) The amount of alcohol a person must drink to reach the legal limit depends on a number of factors, including gender, body size, and number and strength of drinks.

Our BAC calculator and BAC table can give you an estimate of where your BAC might be at after a certain number of drinks. However, these are just approximations that don’t take into consideration all the factors that can affect BAC. If you’ve been drinking, don’t get behind the wheel.

Indiana OWI Penalties

Indiana OWI penalties vary based on the circumstances of the case. But the range of allowable penalties depends, in large part, on the number of prior convictions the defendant has.

In Indiana, an OWI conviction will stay on your record and count as a prior forever. However, an OWI becomes a felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor) if the offender has priors within the past five years. Here are what the potential sentences generally look like for a first, second, and third misdemeanor OWI.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

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

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

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

Fines

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

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

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

License Suspension

Typically, 180 days

At least 1 year

At least 1 year

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

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

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

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

Anyone convicted of a felony OWI (for having a prior conviction within the past five years) is looking at six months to two and a half years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.

Implied Consent and Refusing a Blood or Breath Test in Indiana

Indiana’s “implied consent” laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for an OWI to submit to a blood and/or breath test. Motorist who refuse testing and have no prior OWI convictions face a one-year license suspension. The refusal penalty is two years if the driver has at least one prior OWI.

Plea Bargaining in Indiana DUI Cases

If you get charged with a OWI in Indiana, you might be hoping to get the charge dismissed altogether. However, unless the court throws out evidence that’s critical to prove the charge, it’s unlikely a prosecutor will agree to a complete dismissal.

But in some cases, a reduction to a “wet reckless” charge is possible. A wet reckless is just a reckless driving offense that involves drugs or alcohol. A wet reckless carries the same penalties as a normal reckless driving conviction except there’s a $200 “alcohol and drug countermeasures” fee.

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