Despite state and federal efforts over the years to stop it, drunk and drugged driving continues to be a problem in Indiana and across the country. When people choose to drink or take drugs and drive, they put their own lives at risk, as well as the lives of others on the road. We take a look at DUIs in Indiana in an effort to reduce the frightening statistics and prevent traffic fatalities.
Understanding DUI in Indiana
The acronym "DUI" stands for driving under the influence. The most common DUI offense in Indiana is driving with a BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) over the legal limit of .08 percent. If you are under the age of 21, you can be charged with DUI for registering a .02 percent. It's also important to understand that DUIs aren't always alcohol-related. Drivers can also be charged with a DUI if they are found operating a vehicle while under the influence of any substance or drug that has impaired their ability to drive, and this includes:
- Legal drugs or substances
- Illegal drugs or substances
- Prescription or non-prescription drugs
While Indiana and many other states in the U.S. use the acronym "DUI" to refer to driving under the influence, the charge is also commonly referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving while impaired (also DWI), operating while intoxicated (OWI), or operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OMVI). In Indiana, as in all other states, you can also be placed under arrest for operating a watercraft or aircraft while under the influence.
Impaired Driving Is a Crime
Regardless of the acronym, it is a criminal offense in Indiana to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. To be charged with this offense, evidence of impairment as a result of drugs or alcohol must be present and visible.
Indiana statutes commonly provide for two separate and distinct criminal offenses:
- A "drunk driving" offense consists of driving under the obvious influence of alcohol and/or drugs clearly evident by physical attributes such as erratic driving, slurred speech, unsteady gait, and performance on a field sobriety test. This crime generally results from an officer's observation of a vehicle or the reports of other motorists.
- A "per se" offense relies heavily on the results of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test given at the time of the incident as evidence of the driver’s impairment and/or intoxication. An individual may be charged with both offenses if both offenses are present.
Driving under the influence in Indiana often results in a Class A misdemeanor charge for the driver involved and is punishable by up to one year in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. However, the offense may be elevated to a felony if the incident involved a fatality, serious injury, or extensive property damage. Accidents involving serious injuries often result in a felony DUI for the driver under the influence. Accidents involving fatalities result in the impaired driver receiving a much stronger sentence, such as vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide. Felony DUI charges, vehicular manslaughter, and vehicular homicide charges can all result in sentences that include up to 3, 8, or 20 years in an Indiana State prison.
Important DUI/DWI Statistics
Every 33 minutes in the United States, someone dies as a result of an accident involving an intoxicated driver. Indiana's DUI statistics are equally frightening. Over 30 percent of Indiana's crashes involving fatalities are caused by an intoxicated driver. To further illustrate, in 2014, serious Indiana auto accidents killed 746 Hoosiers. Of the 746 killed that year, 239, or 32 percent, died as a direct result of intoxicated driving.
Approximately 3 out of 10 Americans will be involved in an accident involving a drunk driver at some point in their lives, and according to one government study, over one-third of all deaths of people age 15-20 are a result of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These statistics serve as clear evidence as to why drunk driving or driving under the influence is an epidemic affecting America's roadways.
We Represent Victims of Drunk Drivers in Indiana
The Indiana State Police make thousands of DUI arrests every year in our state. However, when compared to years gone by, DUI arrests appear to be on a slight downward trend, which is often attributed to the zero-tolerance policies our state troopers use when handling alcohol-related offenses.
Keller & Keller also operates under a zero-tolerance policy when one of our clients has been injured by a drunk driver. We have represented hundreds of people injured in alcohol-related crashes throughout Indiana wherein our client had no fault for the crash. The majority of these cases involved our client being struck by a drunk driver or being in a car with a driver who was under the influence. No matter the circumstances, when you're injured by a drunk driver, we are often able to help you obtain a maximum recovery for your injuries and any lost wages you may have incurred. We work especially hard to ensure the insurance company pays every dime to properly compensate you for any and all injuries and property damage caused by a drunk driver they insure. We take a large measure of pride in pursuing justice for someone who was injured by a drunk driver.