Gregg J. Stark
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1st Offense Cases

In the State of Indiana a first offense dui is termed “Operating a Motor Vehilce While Intoxicated.” Such an offense can be designated as a Class A Misdemeanor or Class C Misdemenaor. A Class A Misdemeanor is subject to up to one year in jail and a five thousand ($5,000) dollar fine. Such an offense is usually linked to level of breath alcohol test result and/or driving impairment alleged. As such, the labeling of a Class A Misdmeanor DUI may typically be “Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated Endangering a Person.” (although some counties either through lack of knowledge or inattention will often not affix additional endangerment language)

A Class C misdemeanor can be labeled merely as “Operating While Intoxicated” (without endangerment language) or “Operating With an Alcohol Content Equivalent to .08 or higher” and is subject to up to sixty days in county jail and a five hundred ($500) fine.

However, other than how the offense is labeled, the distinction between the two misdemeanor offenses for punishment purposes within this context is usually minimal in apllication. Whether a Class A or C misdemeanor dui, with proper representation jail time for such an offense should never exceed the sixty day maximum of the lower Class C Misdemeanor absent aggravating legal circumstances. Speaking on behalf of my clients, it is rare that jail time for such an offense is warranted (altough certain counties may require minimal incarceration even for a first offense) whether entered as under either misdmeanor.

In the even that a dismissal is not possible, an experienced dui attorney will usually be able to secure a reduction in fine level below one hundred dollars, in either classification absent unique circumstances. In all such cases mandatory fees of two hundred dollars plus at present one hundred sixty six dollars in court costs must be paid in addition to any recurring monthly probation costs.

If I am able to intervene on behalf of a client quickly enough, it is always my intent to look for any and all means by which a dui prosecution can be dismissed or thrown out of court prior to trial. Where this is not possible, I generally convey to my clients that I hope to make their experience more of a minor inconvenience than a criminal nightmare.

Once the possibility of incarceration has been eliminated, dui requirements of probation must be addressed. A range of court options including an alcohol evaluation, complying with whatever recommendations are ordered, community service, victim impact panels which require those on probation to learn the impact of drunk driving from victims and an assortment of other potential restrictions are avilable for the court's consideration. Home detention, work release, monitorng devices for alcohol either in the home or vehicle must always be challenged in appropriate circumstances. No alcohol or frequenting bars and drug and alcohol testing in one form or another is commonly ordered.

It is important to note that legal options when assessing application of owi laws are always dependant on different factors including but not limited to: the skill of your defense attorney, how quickly the attorney has been brought in to the case in your defense, the strengths or weaknesses of the case against you, and many times the county in Indiana where your dui prosecution is being held.

Unfortunately, on far too many occassions I have taken over the defense of dui cases originally handled by general practice attorneys. In such instances the above referenced options may have been altered or limited dependant upon the time frame left to reverse course and the extent by which my client’s legal defense and options can be salvaged.

In addition to court ordered penalties mentioned, most people are additionally burdened, if not more so, by the mandatory imposition of a driver’s license suspension out the outset of one's dui prosecution. It is then that upon finding of probable cause that one tested above the legal limit of .08 that an initial license suspension of 180 days will be imposed by the Indiana BMV. This suspension cannot be terminated until the prosecution has been resolved. At that time the court has the authority to suspend the individual's license for up to two years. Although the present laws do not place a minimum suspension period for court ordered suspensions, the vast majority of jurisdictions will not allow for a suspension for less than 90 days to the maximum of two years absent special circumstances. However, if one had submitted to a breath test this later to be imposed court ordered suspension period can be reduced by the number of days suspended by the Indiana BMV during the course of the case prosecution.

450 E. 96th St., Suite 500 Indianapolis, IN 46240 Phone: (317) 818-6035