Indianapolis DUI License Suspensions Attorney
If you are accused of DUI or OVWI (operating while intoxicated) in Indiana, you will be dealing with DUI license suspensions. Both pre-trial and post-trial (if you are convicted), your driving privileges will be in jeopardy whenever you are charged with operating while intoxicated. An experienced attorney can help you navigate these issues and get back to driving, legally, as quickly as possible.
DUI Implied Consent and Your Driver’s License
Under Indiana law, when you obtain a driver’s license, you give consent to submit to chemical testing if the police have probable cause to believe you are operating a vehicle while intoxicated. (I.C. 9-30-6). Specifically, I.C. 9-30-6-1 states that a person “who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to submit to the chemical test provision of this chapter as a condition of operating a vehicle in Indiana.” If you refuse the tests, there are consequences, including the possible loss of your driving privileges for one year or more.
Refusing a Chemical Test Under Indiana Implied Consent
When an officer wants to offer a chemical test, he or she will often read the driver the implied consent law from a pre-printed card. This typically goes something like this:
“I have probable cause to believe you’ve operated a vehicle while intoxicated. I must now offer you the opportunity to submit to a chemical test and inform you that your refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in the suspension of your driving privileges for one year. Will you now take the chemical test?”
If the driver refuses any of the tests offered (usually a breath test or blood draw) this is considered a refusal. In some cases, the person does not even have to actively refuse. If the person does not answer, can’t decide what to do or even tries to submit to a test but the officer believes the person is intentionally trying to confuse the test, that can also be considered a refusal.
In this case, when there is a direct or indirect refusal, the officer will very often request a search warrant to obtain a blood draw. If this occurs, certain requirements must be followed and the blood sample will be submitted for testing.
Most importantly, if a person refuses a chemical test, this triggers certain penalties, including DUI license suspensions. A driver who refuses a chemical test will be facing a one year license suspension if it is a first refusal and a two year suspension for a subsequent refusal.
If there is a refusal finding, you can challenge that early on to try and vacate the lengthy license suspension, but there are certain deadlines that must be met. Additionally, in some cases, if there is a plea agreement, a prosecutor can agree to a no-refusal finding to vacate the refusal suspension or the court can find that it is in the best interest of justice to terminate the refusal suspension.
Finally, if there is a refusal, the court cannot grant Specialized Driving Privileges, so the driver must serve the entire suspension.
DUI License Suspensions – Pre-Trial Issues
When you are charged with DUI or OVWI, if the judge finds that there was probable cause for your arrest under I.C. 9-30-5 and you did not refuse a chemical test, the judge will suspend your driver’s license for 180 days. This will begin as soon as the judge orders and runs during the pendency of the case.
If the case is resolved before the end of the 180 days, you will get credit for any of that time your license was suspended. For example, many pleas for a first time DUI or OVWI include a 90 day license suspension, so if you have already been suspended for 90 days, you will get credit back to the start date and your driver’s license suspension as part of the sentence will already be completed.
DUI License Suspensions – Post-Conviction
Under Indiana law, when there is a conviction for DUI or OVWI, the court can suspend a person’s driver’s license for up to the period of possible incarceration. For example, if a person is convicted of DUI as a Class A misdemeanor, the license suspension could be up to 365 days, since that is the max sentence for a Class A misdemeanor. Often, however, for a first time offender, they are typically looking at a 90 day suspension. For someone with previous convictions for DUI or OVWI, they should expect a longer suspension period to be imposed. However, if the person was suspended at the start of the case, they may receive credit for that suspension time, unless there was a refusal.
DUI License Suspensions & Specialized Driving Privileges
In the pre-trial stages, if your license is suspended, you may be eligible to apply for specialized driving privileges. This type of license allows you to drive to certain locations under restriction. However, an order for specialized driving privileges must be for at least 180 days, so if there is a possibility that the case will be resolved short of 180 days, it is often better to wait, because a post-conviction suspension will often be shorter than 180 days.
Post-conviction, if there is a driver’s license suspension you can ask the court to stay the suspension and grant specialized driving privileges, either as part of a plea or in a separate request. However, this restricted license must still be for 180 days, so there may be a trade-off. If your DUI license suspension will only be 90 days under the plea, it may be better to serve the 90 days instead of being under a restricted license for 180 days. These are issues that will have to be discussed with your attorney to decide the best course of action.
Additionally, if the court does grant a specialized driving privilege in your DUI case, the court can require that you only operate a vehicle that has ignition interlock. This creates additional restrictions and cost, so you will have to weigh these issues when deciding how to address a possible DUI license suspension.
Finally, if there was a refusal in you DUI case, you are not eligible for Specialized Driving Privileges in that case, unless the refusal suspension is terminated.
Chambers Law Office – Indianapolis DUI Lawyer
If you have been accused of DUI or OVWI and have questions about your driver’s license or need representation in a DUI criminal case, contact Chambers Law Office. Julie Chambers is a former deputy prosecutor, giving her a unique perspective in defending her clients. Contact Chambers Law Office today to discuss your case!