If you’ve been charged with an Indiana DUI, there are probably a few things you don’t understand. To begin with, a DUI in Indiana is formally known as operating a vehicle while intoxicated (or OVWI). It starts as a Class C misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. It’s pretty common though, for the State to increase the charge to a Class A misdemeanor.
What Is Endangerment in the Context of DUI?
For people who are facing an Indiana DUI, chances are good they can find the word endanger somewhere in the charging information. In many cases, this endangerment of a person’s life is what allows the State to enhance the DUI charge to a Class A misdemeanor. In Indiana, a Class A misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
When the prosecutor is trying to prove endangerment, they’re looking at specific driving behaviors such as:
- weaving in and out of traffic,
- switching lanes without signaling,
- making illegal turns, and
- any other dangerous maneuvers.
It’s important to note that not everything counts as potentially dangerous conduct. Having a taillight out, or driving without lights while the sun is up, for example, are not things that can contribute to an endangerment charge.
Paths to a Class A Misdemeanor
Your Indiana DUI can also be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if your alcohol concentration equivalent (ACE) was measured at .15* or greater—even if there was no endangerment. Likewise, even if your ACE is only .06, you can still be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor if the State can prove that you were driving in a manner that endangered someone’s life.
The real kicker with endangerment is that no one else has to be involved. The State has no problem with enhancing your DUI charge because you endangered your own life.
Make the Right Call
An Indiana DUI is not as simple as it sounds. There is chemistry involved, there is the question of endangerment, and then there is the fact that in many DUI cases, there are no law enforcement witnesses to the alleged offense. If you have any questions, give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!
* grams of ethanol per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath