Third OWI Offense in Indiana

The administrative and criminal penalties for a third OWI/DUI in Indiana.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is normally called “operating while intoxicated” (OWI) in Indiana. A person can be convicted of OWI for driving a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more
  • with a schedule I or II controlled substance or its metabolite in the driver’s system, or
  • while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.

When an offender is arrested for OWI in Indiana, there are generally administrative (license related) penalties imposed. If the offender is subsequently convicted of OWI in court, criminal penalties are also imposed.

Administrative Penalties

License suspension. Under Indiana’s implied consent law, a driver is deemed to have given consent to a chemical test of breath, blood, urine, or another bodily substance if there’s probable cause to believe the person has committed an OWI offense. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will generally suspend the license of any driver who has a BAC of .08% or more or refuses to submit to a chemical test.

A motorist who has at least one previous OWI conviction is subject to the following suspension periods:

  • 180 days for a failed test, and
  • two years for refusing to submit to a test.

The BMV will rescind the administrative suspension and reinstate an offender’s driving privileges if:

  • the criminal OWI charge is dismissed, or
  • the offender was found not guilty of the OWI charge and didn’t refuse to submit to a chemical test.

Specialized driving privileges. An offender whose license has been administratively suspended can obtain specialized driving privileges to drive during the suspension period. However, an offender who refused chemical testing is not eligible for driving privileges during the suspension period.

To obtain specialized driving privileges, the offender is generally required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in the vehicle. Offenders can be granted these driving privileges for at least 180 days and up to two and a half years.

Criminal Penalties

Jail, fines, and community service. A third OWI offense is a level 6 felony if the defendant has a previous OWI conviction that occurred within five years of the current OWI offense. A third OWI conviction can also be a level 6 felony if the defendant:

  • is at least 21 years old
  • had a BAC of .15% (about how many drinks it takes) or more or drove a vehicle in a manner that endangered another person, and
  • had a passenger under 18 years of age in the vehicle.

A level 6 felony carries six months to two and a half years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

A third OWI conviction is a class 5 felony if the defendant has a previous OWI conviction that caused death or serious bodily injury. A level 5 felony carries one to six years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Regardless of whether the third OWI conviction is class 5 or 6 felony, all third OWI convictions require a minimum sentence of:

  • ten days in jail, or
  • 480 hours of community service.

This sentence can’t be suspended or reduced and a defendant is not entitled to earn good-time credit. A defendant can serve the sentence in intervals of at least 48 hours, but the entire sentence must be served within six months after the sentencing date.

License suspension. In addition to the administrative suspension discussed above, the court generally imposes a license suspension if the defendant is convicted of OWI. The suspension period can be up to the maximum period of incarceration allowed for the offense. For a third OWI conviction, the suspension periods are:

  • six months to two and a half years (if the defendant is convicted of a level 6 felony OWI), and
  • one to six years (if the defendant is convicted of a level 5 felony OWI).

A defendant whose license was administratively suspended for submitting to and failing a chemical test will receive credit towards the court suspension for the time of the administrative suspension. However, the defendant is ineligible to receive credit towards the court suspension if the administrative suspension is for refusing chemical testing.

Vehicle seizure. The court can order the seizure of the defendant’s vehicle if in the previous five years, the defendant has two or more OWI convictions. The BMV won’t register the vehicle in the defendant’s name until the defendant possesses a valid driver’s license.

Alcohol/drug assessment and treatment. The court requires third OWI offenders to undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. If the assessment indicates alcohol and/or drug abuse, the defendant must complete a treatment program. A defendant who suffers from alcohol abuse must complete an alcohol deterrent program.

Victim impact program. The court usually requires all OWI offenders to complete a victim impact program (VIP) and pay for the costs of the program. To complete the program, offenders must participate in a panel of speakers who have been affected by OWI drivers and visit:

  • an emergency medical facility
  • a coroner’s facility, or
  • a chronic alcoholism treatment center.

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