Over the course of your lifetime, you may be tempted to or drive with alcohol in your system. What many people don’t know, or don’t fully understand, is that you do not have to be over the legal limit to be arrested and charged with Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (“OWI”). Generally speaking, it is enough that you have alcohol in your system that impairs you.
Due to the commonality of OWI charges and convictions, it is important to know and understand what will happen if you are stopped by a law enforcement officer. There are certain tests that will be administered, including a chemical test and field sobriety tests to check motor skills. A driver can refuse to take a chemical test but it is important to understand the consequences of refusal.
Most states have what are known as “implied consent” laws. Implied consent refers to an inherent agreement each driver makes, simply by nature of applying for and being issued a driver’s license in the state; this means you to submit to a chemical test (a/k/a breath test) if a law enforcement officer has legally sufficient belief1 you are driving under the influence.
If you refuse to submit to a chemical test in Indiana, your license will be suspended automatically for at least one year, possibly more if you have prior convictions for OWI. While the law enforcement officer is required to inform you that your license will be suspended, you may not be in a state of mind to understand this warning or its consequences at the time. That is why it is important to know the consequences ahead of time.
In addition to the automatic suspension of your license, Indiana allows your refusal of a chemical test to be used against you in any criminal proceeding as evidence of guilt. This evidence could be determinative undermine any defense available to you at trial.
If you have been arrested for OWI in Indiana, it is important to get help from an experienced attorney. A charge such as this tends to have significant consequences since it is the focus of such social awareness campaigns, reflected in the national trend of lowering blood alcohol rates for criminality, especially if the incident involved injury to people or property. Your attorney can help you to avoid or reduce these consequences.
The attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. handle OWI cases by advocating the best approach tailored to each client’s specific needs, given the facts and law in the case. This blog post is intended to provide general information and is not a solicitation for legal service or specific legal advice. It is advertising material. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle criminal cases throughout the State.
- This is a complicated area of law beyond this blog post and differs for on-street stops versus searches and seizures at your home.