OVWI/DUI and Driver’s License/Privileges Suspension

A person who has been charged with an OVWI offense in Indiana can face the possibility of driver’s license/privileges suspension in a variety of ways, including the following:

Refusal to submit to a chemical test, whether a blood draw or breathalyzer, will result in a license suspension. Indiana law states “a person who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to submit to the chemical test provisions of this chapter as a condition of operating a vehicle in Indiana.” If a person refuses to submit to a chemical test, a police officer is then required by Indiana law to inform the person that refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in the suspension of the person’s driving privileges. If the person continues to refuse, then the Indiana BMV is required by statute to suspend the person’s driving privileges for one (1) year if the person has no prior OVWI convictions, two (2) years if the person has at least one (1) prior OVWI conviction, or until the suspension is ordered terminated by the Court.

Failure of a chemical test will result in a license suspension. Even if a person submits to a chemical test and dodges a refusal suspension, their driving privileges must be suspended according to Indiana law if a chemical test results in “prima facie evidence that the person was intoxicated.” Prima facie evidence of intoxication is at least 0.08 grams of alcohol per (1) one hundred (100) milliliters of the person’s blood, or (2) two hundred ten (210) liters of the person’s breath. It takes considerably longer for blood test results to come back from the lab than the few seconds it takes for breathalyzer test results. A suspension of driving privileges for prima facie evidence of intoxication is (1) for one hundred eighty (180) days, or (2) until the bureau is notified by a court that the charges have been disposed of, whichever occurs first.

After a person has been charged with an OVWI, an Initial Hearing will be scheduled. One of the things the Court will do is determine if there is probable cause that the person has committed an OVWI offense. If the Court determines probable cause exists for an OVWI offense, then the Court will do 1 of 2 things. They will [1] recommend immediate suspension of the person’s driving privileges in an order, which takes effect the date the order is entered, and forward the order to the Indiana BMV. Or, they will [2] issue an order recommending that the person be prohibited from operating a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is equipped with a functioning certified ignition interlock device until the Indiana BMV is notified by the court that the criminal charges against the person have been resolved.

The Court can either fix or not fix the length of time for the period of suspension in their Initial Hearing Order for recommendation of suspension of driving privileges regarding an OVWI offense. If the Court fixes the time period, the BMV shall fix the period of suspension in accordance with the recommendation of the court. If the Court fails to recommend a fixed period of suspension, or recommends a fixed term that is less than the minimum term required by statute, the BMV shall impose the minimum period of suspension required by statute.

Generally, a Court may suspend the driving privileges of a person convicted of OVWI offenses for a period up to the maximum allowable period of incarceration under the penalty for the offense. For example, if a person is convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor OVWI, the maximum penalty and suspension would be 365 days. A suspension of driving privileges for an OVWI offense normally can begin before the conviction is entered.

Persons with multiple OVWI convictions can be found to be Habitual Traffic Violators, which can result in five (5) year, (10) year, or even lifetime driving privileges suspensions.

The good news is specialized driving privileges are available for every type of OVWI license suspension other than a refusal suspension, and an ignition interlock order is available for a refusal suspension. If you have been charged with an OVWI and your driving privileges have been suspended, contact me today. I can address your suspension and help get you back on the road.


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