Operating while intoxicated (OWI) is illegal in Indiana regardless of whether the impairment is caused by marijuana, alcohol, or other intoxicating substances. But a driver can also be convicted of a per se OWI—regardless of the actual level of impairment—based on the chemical test results showing any amount of certain substances in the driver's system. This article explains what constitutes drugged driving and the penalties of a conviction.
Indiana has two types for drug-related OWI (also called "driving under the influence of drugs" (DUID)): per se DUIDs and DUIDs based on impairment.
Per se DUID. To convict a driver for a per se DUID, the state need only show that the driver had a measurable amount of schedule I or II controlled substances in his or her body. The list of qualifying substances includes marijuana, heroin, and medications like oxycodone. However, a driver who has a valid prescription for the drug in question and was using the drug as prescribed will have a legal defense to a per se DUID charge.
Impairment DUID. To get an impairment DUID conviction, the state must prove the motorist's thoughts and actions were impaired and the motorist had a loss of normal faculties. With impairment DUIDs, the type of substance ingested doesn't matter and a valid prescription isn't a legal defense—the state just needs to prove impairment. Evidence of impairment might include things like blood test results along with expert testimony about the substances' effects. The prosecution might also have the arresting officer testify regarding any observations that could suggest the driver was under the influence of drugs.
An Indiana drugged driving offense is a class C misdemeanor and carries penalties identical to those for a drunk driving conviction. And a prior offense in the last seven years will result in a felony charge.
First offense. A first drugged driving offense will result in up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. The driver's license will also be suspended for 180 days. However, the driver might be able to obtain a restricted license by installing an ignition interlock device (IID).
Second offense. Generally, a second drugged driving offense will also result in up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. However, the offender must serve at least five days in jail or 240 hours of community service. The driver's license will be suspended for one year (with the possibility of a restricted license). Drivers who are convicted of operating under the influence twice within a seven-year period can be charged with a felony OWI and face more severe penalties.
Treatment. All DUID convictions require the offender to complete an alcohol and drug assessment. Based on the results and recommendations of the assessment, the offender may be required to complete a treatment program.