Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense that is both common and dangerous. Although most DUI charges stem from someone getting caught driving under the influence because of bad driving habits, the laws prohibiting impaired driving exist because of the likelihood of someone under the influence causing a crash that produces substantial property damage or injury for other people.
For those accused of an impaired driving offense, it is common to presume the situation won’t be that serious if the scenario leading to the charges did not involve injury or death for other people. A DUI charge can seem like a victimless, even minor, offense. However, depending on the circumstances and the accused driver’s previous record, Indiana DUI charges can have long-lasting consequences.
Previous convictions mean more potential penalties
Even a first-time impaired driving charge is far from a slap on the wrist, but it does carry more lenient consequences than the same offense for someone with one or more previous DUI convictions. A first-time DUI in Indiana might result in fines of as much as $5,000, up to a year in jail and the loss of your license for up to two years.
However, if you have a previous conviction, the penalties will increase notably. There’s a mandatory minimum of five days in jail, although you could face up to three years of incarceration. The maximum fine increases to $10,000. Third offenses have the same maximum criminal penalties regarding fines and jail time, but the potential license suspension increases to up to 10 years.
Other factors can also increase the penalties you face
Many circumstances can alter the seriousness of a DUI charge and the penalties attached to it. For example, if you have a commercial driver’s license, you could wind up charged for a lower blood alcohol concentration and face the loss of your professional license and career.
Those who allegedly drive drunk with minors in their vehicle or who have a high level of alcohol in their bloodstream might also have increased penalties because of those complicating factors.
Even first-time charges justify a thorough criminal defense strategy in order to limit the long-term impact of such charges on your future.