A few months back a significant new law took effect in Indiana that could have a major impact on the punishments available to many individuals with past impaired driving offenses.
The new law contained within Indiana statutes related to owi/dui offenses now allows state prosecutors the ability to charge individuals with a felony if one has a prior owi/dui related conviction within the past seven (7) years.
Formerly, one in Indiana on a standard owi/dui offense could only be charged with a felony had the prior conviction for such an offense occurred within the past five (5) years of the new charged arrest. (owi causing death, serious bodily injury or with minor in a vehicle are felony offenses irrespective of time or a prior conviction for owi in Indiana)
The implications of this broadening of impaired driving laws are significant. For far more individuals attempting to rehabilitate their lives and careers following successful rehabilitation for a second offense owi/dui in Indiana, consideration will now need to be given as to how to address the possibility of a felony conviction.
Of course the best manner of attack is to do all legally possible to explore having such potential felony charges dismissed. Where such action may not be possible, an attorney must explore whether a misdemeanor can be secured at the time of an agreed conviction and if not, whether a felony reduction can be guaranteed upon the successful completion of any term of probation that may be imposed.
This modification to Indiana state law has escaped the notice of several lawyers I have counseled over the past couple of months. I suspect that some fortunate individuals presently charged with a misdemeanor impaired driving charge in Indiana may actually be subject to a felony as even state prosecutors are not always caught up with law changes such as the one being discussed.
In any event it is important that one who has been charged with an operating while intoxicated/impaired driving offense within the State of Indiana be aware of these changes within the law. In so doing, one with a prior impaired driving offense now within the past seven (7) years can capably meet the legal challenge of preparing for how to best minimize the impact such a felony can have on one’s otherwise productive future.