What is a Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender (HVSO)?

As a DUI / OVWI Attorney, one of the most serious things I deal with on a daily basis is the Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender (HVSO) sentencing enhancement. If charged by the State, the HVSO adds one to eight years to your maximum criminal sentence. For example, if you’re charged with a misdemeanor DUI / OVWI, you’re probably not facing jail time. If, however, you get a misdemeanor DUI / OVWI and the State files the HVSO enhancement, you can get anywhere from one to eight years in jail. Likewise, if you’re charge with a Level 6 felony DUI / OVWI plus HVSO, the maximum sentence is now 10-and-a-half years in jail. The HVSO statute is one of the toughest DUI / OVWI laws that Indiana has on the books.

There are two ways to become eligible for the HVSO filing. The first option is where you’re charged with a DUI / OVWI, you have two prior DUI / OVWI convictions, and at least one of those convictions was within the last 10 years. Alternatively, if you’re being charged with your fourth DUI / OVWI, it doesn’t matter how long ago your previous convictions were—the State is well within its rights to label you a Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender.

Sound confusing? It is. The bottom line: If you get charged with a DUI / OVWI and you have two or three prior convictions, you need an attorney with experience. You need an attorney who will contact the prosecutor’s office and let them know you’re taking the case seriously. You need an attorney who will be sure you’re doing everything you can possibly do to minimize or eliminate jail time. You need an attorney who knows what judges and prosecutors expect of an HVSO-eligible defendant and who can help you meet those expectations. You need pro-active representation, not a reactive attorney who’s waiting for the other shoe to drop.

If you or a loved one are dealing with DUI / OVWI charges or the Habitual Vehicular Substance Offender sentencing enhancement, give Attorney Marc Lopez a call at 317-632-3642 or send him an email.