Operating while intoxicated (OWI) (also called "DUI") 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 of drug-related OWI/DUI: per se DUIs and DUIs based on impairment.
To convict a driver for a per se drug DUI, the state needs 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.
To get an impairment drug DUI conviction, the state must prove the motorist's thoughts and actions were impaired and the motorist had a loss of normal faculties. With impairment DUIs, the type of substance ingested doesn't matter—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.
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 DUI charge. However, the defense won't work if the DUI charge is based on actual impairment.
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.
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).
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.
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.
This article gives you the basics of Indiana's drug DUI laws. However, every case is different and there are nuances of the law that aren't discussed her. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, you should contact a qualified DUI lawyer in your area.