DUI / OVWI, DWI, OVWI—they all essentially mean the same thing in Indiana, right? Well, there are actually three separate, distinct situations that can lead to a DUI / OVWI charge in Indiana. It’s worth being familiar with these scenarios because:
1) they can happen to anyone; and
2) many facts overlap, but other facts can be specific to each type of DUI / OVWI charge.
First: Being Intoxicated While Driving
In Indiana, intoxicated means that there is an impaired condition of thought or action and the loss of normal control of a person’s faculties. What does that mean? Basically, someone is falling down, they’re acting weird, they’re stumbling, they can’t grab things correctly, or they’re not thinking straight. Surprise—these are the very things officers first look for when starting a DUI / OVWI investigation.
Police look for clues of intoxication during traffic stops: Fumbling with your license or registration? Bad dexterity. Pulling yourself out of the car? That could be a sign of intoxication. Officers are looking for anything that’s different from how a person “normally” acts.
This is why the police are always asking people to do stupid human tricks—what we call standardized field sobriety tests. These tests are garbage and involve scrutiny of a bunch of things that people don’t ordinarily do:
- balance on one leg;
- keep your arms to your side;
- count to 10 out loud;
- take ten steps forward without raising your hands;
- stay in a straight line;
- take only nine steps coming back;
- follow this light with your eyes and not your head;
A major deviation from these confusing, awkward instructions is all that police need for this first type of DUI / OVWI. They don’t even need a number—that is, a breath test result or a blood lab test. Fumbling with a wallet and failing a field sobriety test is proof of intoxication. If you have a good attorney, these types of DUI / OVWI cases can be very tough for the government to prove.
Second: Driving with a Alcohol Concentration Equivalent of 0.08 or Higher
The second situation that can lead to a DUI / OVWI charge is if somebody has a alcohol concentration equivalent (ACE) of 0.08* or greater. Things can get worse with a higher ACE, but this type of DUI / OVWI starts at 0.08.
If someone finds themselves blowing into the machine at the police department or getting a blood draw at the hospital, the police are testing their ACE. Someone could be stone cold sober, and pass the field sobriety tests with flying colors, but if the officer takes breath or blood and it comes back at 0.08 or greater, they’re going to be charged with this form of DUI / OVWI.
Third: Driving with a Controlled Substance or Its Metabolite in Your Blood
The third situation that can lead to a DUI / OVWI charge is if somebody drives a vehicle with a controlled substance or the metabolite of a controlled substance in their blood. What does this really mean? Well, if someone has done recreational drugs recently and they get pulled over and have their blood drawn, this could lead to a DUI / OVWI charge even if the drug was taken a week ago.
Another common situation is driving with active marijuana metabolites in the blood. Even if the marijuana was smoked days ago, if the metabolites are in the blood, its technically still a DUI / OVWI. In this type of DUI / OVWI charge, it does not really matter whether someone is actually intoxicated or not. As long as the police have a test that shows a drug or its metabolite in the blood, this is the type of DUI / OVWI charge a person will be facing.
Make the Right Call
The attorneys at the Marc Lopez Law Firm have a passion for DUI / OVWI laws and defenses, and they do this every day. 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