What factors can lead to enhanced penalties for a DUI?

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2023 | DUI Defense

Many people who are arrested for driving under the influence in Indiana have no experience with the legal system and will not know what to expect. For a first encounter with law enforcement and accusations of DUI, they could have preconceived notions as to the possible penalties.

For those who are simply stopped and accused of DUI, the charge will be a misdemeanor. There are levels based on their blood alcohol concentration, or BAC.

A driver who registers a BAC of at least 0.08% but below 0.15% will face a Class C misdemeanor. With a BAC of 0.15% or higher, it is a Class A misdemeanor.

The penalties vary in severity depending on the circumstances and how many prior convictions the driver has. For example, a first offense will result in a fine of as much as $5,000; the need to pay court costs for more than $300; the possibility of a year in jail; and a driver’s license suspension of up to two years.

What people also need to understand is there are other factors that can significantly increase the consequences. Knowing what might the ramifications worse is essential when trying to fight the charges.

Know what can worsen DUI penalties

There are instances that will result in harsher penalties. If a driver has more than one conviction, the penalties will increase for every subsequent time they are charged and convicted. In addition, other issues can make the case worse. That includes a DUI with a passenger under the age of 18.

For a second offense, the jail time can be from five days to three years. In addition or in lieu of that, there could be a requirement to perform community service. The fine can increase to as much as $10,000. The driver’s license suspension will be for at least six months and up to two years.

A third offense will result in at least 10 days in jail or up to three years with the possibility of community service. The fine will be the same as for a second offense. The license suspension will be for a minimum of one year and up to 10 years. The driver could be categorized as a habitual traffic violator and a habitual substance offender. This designation is important because it can severely lengthen the prison sentence from one to eight years.

Having a person younger than 18 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest also extends the possible penalties. It will rise to a Level 6 felony if they were previously convicted of DUI within seven years of the latest arrest or they were at least 21 and had a person under 18 in the vehicle.

DUI convictions can cause extensive problems

The above punishments for DUI can negatively impact a person’s life in myriad ways. They can lose their right to drive a vehicle, be incarcerated and need to pay major fines. It is also an issue in other circumstances. DUIs will lead to raised insurance rates and the possibility of an ignition interlock device being placed on the driver’s vehicle. It can hinder attempts to get certain types of employment or lead to a person losing the job they already have.

Given the challenges that accompany any DUI, it is vital to know the options to forge a viable criminal defense. Some might think there is little they can do to secure an acquittal or have the charges reduced. However, there could be problems with the evidence or the option available to receive treatment in lieu of punishment. Having help can assuage fears and search for effective solutions.