Advocating For Your Best Interests

Is impairment necessary for an Indiana OWI conviction?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2024 | Criminal Defense

In Indiana, it is illegal for someone to get behind the wheel a significant amount of alcohol. The state prohibits driving when someone recognizes that alcohol has compromised their ability. It is also illegal for someone to exceed the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Some people get arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) offenses because they cause car crashes. Other people get pulled over due to poor driving or stopped at a sobriety checkpoint.

Sometimes, drivers agree to submit to breath tests or field sobriety tests because they believe that their driving was perfectly acceptable and that the state won’t be able to bring charges against them. What drivers may fail to understand is that an elevated BAC can be sufficient reason for their prosecution.

The state doesn’t need to prove diminished driving ability

Contrary to what people often assume, Indiana police officers do not need direct evidence of poor driving to arrest someone, and prosecutors don’t have to prove diminished ability either. Technical violations of the existing BAC limit are enough to justify arrests, criminal charges and convictions. The BAC limit in Indiana is a per se law. It is illegal to be over the limit for BAC regardless of whether someone demonstrates impairment or not. People find that concept confusing, and they may also misremember which BAC limit applies in their case.

The average adult might face arrest when their BAC reaches 0.08%. Teenagers and 20-year-olds not yet able to legally drink are subject to a zero-tolerance rule. A BAC of 0.02% is all the state needs to establish to charge them with impaired driving offenses. Someone in control of a commercial vehicle, like a bus or a semi-truck, is also subject to a different limit. A BAC of 0.04% or higher could be enough to justify the prosecution of someone in control of a commercial vehicle.

Those accused of violating impaired driving statutes in Indiana could face incarceration and driver’s license consequences if they plead guilty or get convicted in court. The only way of avoiding certain criminal penalties is to defend against OWI charges. Those accused of a technical violation might be able to question the accuracy of test results or even the admissibility of certain evidence.

Understanding when the state can pursue OWI charges may help people to make more informed choices. For example, drivers who learn about the law may feel more confident about their decision to defend against criminal allegations.