12 Feb Driving While Intoxicated: One Arrest…Multiple Charges
I was Arrested for Driving While Intoxicated…
Why was I Charged With More Than One OVWI Offense?
Maybe you were pulled over after a night out with friends. Or maybe you had just left a work conference. Then the worst happens…you see the red and blue lights behind you.
Anyone can make a mistake and have one too many drinks before getting behind the wheel. But if that happens, you’ve only driven the car once, so why might you find yourself facing two or more charges for the same driving while intoxicated offense?
In Indiana, there are multiple charges a prosecutor can bring for driving while intoxicated. (See I.C. 9-30-5). You might be charged under Indiana Code 9-30-5-2(a), which says that a person who operates a vehicle while intoxicated commits a Class C Misdemeanor. However, under I.C. 9-30-5-2(b), if a person operate a vehicle while intoxicated in such a manner as to endanger a person, it is a Class A Misdemeanor.
Additionally, under I.C. 9-30-5-1(a), if a person operates a vehicle with a B.A.C. greater than .08 but less than .15, it is a Class C Misdemeanor. But under I.C. 9-30-5-1(b), if the B.A.C. is greater than .15, then it becomes a Class A Misdemeanor.
Finally, if you have a prior conviction for OVWI in the previous 5 years, the charge can be enhanced to a Level 6 Felony.
Prosecutor Can Charge More Than One Crime for the Same OVWI Arrest
If you were arrested for OVWI, while there are many ways the prosecutor could decide to charge a person for driving while intoxicated, there is no law limiting the number of charges they can bring. This means that if you are pulled over for crossing the center line multiple times and your B.A.C. is .10, you could be charged with one count of Operating While Intoxicated, Class C Misdemeanor, one count of Operating with a B.A.C. over .08 as a Class C Misdemeanor, and one count of Operating While Intoxicated Endangering a Person as a Class A Misdemeanor.
So after driving your car just one time and enduring just one arrest, you could find yourself charged with three crimes.
Can You Be Sentenced for Multiple Charges Stemming from One Offense?
The good news is that even if you do find yourself facing multiple charges from one incident, if you are found guilty, in most cases the lesser offense “merges” into the higher offense, meaning that you would only be sentenced for the higher offense, but not both.
That means if you are convicted of Operating While Intoxicated Endangering a Person, Class A Misdemeanor and also Operating with a B.A.C. over .08, Class C Misdemeanor, the C misdemeanor would merge into the A misdemeanor and you would only be sentenced on the Class A Misdemeanor and it’s considered one conviction, not two. That means one sentence, one license suspension, and one fine.
Indianapolis Driving While Intoxicated (OVWI) Attorneys
If you were arrested for driving while intoxicated and want a lawyer that will walk you through the system step-by-step, call Chambers Law Office today. Attorneys Julie Chambers and Katie Kawiecki are both former deputy prosecutors with a combined 23 years of experience. Call today to schedule a consultation!