Despite the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, many people fail to take this offense seriously.
While a first offense is normally a misdemeanor charge, many DUI offenses carry stiffer penalties, especially if you have previous convictions.
Felony DUI charges
A DUI can result in a felony charge, even for a first offense, if driving while intoxicated causes serious injury or death to another person.
Generally, if you drive under the influence of alcohol and a person dies as a result, you will face a Level 4 felony charge. Causing bodily injury typically results in a Level 5 felony charge, while causing the death of a law enforcement animal, such as a police dog, is a Level 6 felony in Indiana.
It is also a Level 6 felony for anyone over the age of 21 to drive under the influence while transporting minor passengers.
Previous DUI convictions
Multiple DUIs can result in felony charges in many states, but the law in Indiana is especially strict. If you have even one previous DUI conviction in the last seven years, a subsequent DUI is a Level 6 felony.
Previous convictions can increase the severity of other felony DUI charges. For example, if you injure someone while driving drunk and have a previous DUI conviction, you can face a Level 4 felony instead of Level 5, even if your previous conviction did not involve serious bodily injury.
DUI is a common offense, but that does not mean you should take it lightly. Indiana drivers should be aware of the potential consequence of DUI charges.