Guidance From A 25 Year DUI Defense Attorney & Former DUI Prosecutor
To those familiar with the criminal justice system in Indiana, Stark Law Offices, P.C. is often looked upon as the Drunk Driving Defense authority. When in need of an experienced DUI lawyer anywhere within the state of Indiana, I know how to help you.
“Truths” Top Lawyers Wish People Knew is an initial guide I strongly encourage people to review prior to retaining a defense lawyer to safeguard their liberty and livelihood. Knowledge is power. Become aware that you have the right to remain protected when accused of a drunk driving offense. Most importantly, take action and call without delay as an attorney has deadlines to protect your legal rights.
Making DUI Laws Throughout Indiana Work For You.
*The following is a brief outline of present dui laws and is not inclusive of all case possibilities. I encourage you to call me or another experienced impaired driving defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your particular case and the relevant laws applicable to your unique factual circumstances.*
1st Offense OWI Penalties – Class C Misdemeanor
Up to sixty days in jail/ $500.00 fine. License suspension of up to 60 days.
Such cases are those with relatively low alcohol test levels (generally .11 or below depending upon court jurisdiction) where no driving activity is alleged that could have endangered public safety. Ex. random license plate check as basis for stop, sobriety checkpoint, stop for broken tail light, etc.
1st Offense Indiana DUI Penalties – Class A Misdemeanor
Up to one year in jail/$5,00.00 fine. License Suspension of up to One Year
Such cases are those first offenses that in some way allege to have potentially endangered the safety of others. For example, cases with erratic driving activity, commission of traffic offenses as a cause for the initial stop, and/or alcohol test readings at or above.15 breath alcohol content.
2nd Offense DUI – Class A Misdemeanor – Prior Conviction Over 7 Years
Minimum 5 Days in Jail or 240 Hours Community Service Work
Maximum 1 Year Jail – 1 Year License Suspension
Level 6 Felony – 2nd OWI Within 7 Years
6 Months to Two and One Half Years Imprisonment/Up to $10,000 Fine
(All But 10 Jail Days Can Be Suspended)
One To Two and One Half Year License Suspension
OWI Causing Serious Bodily Injury or Death
(Injury) Up To 6 Years Imprisonment
1 to 6 Years License Suspension
(Death) Up to 12 Years Imprisonment
2 to 12 Years License Suspension
Habitual Vehicular Substance Offenses – 2 or More Prior DUI or OWI Convictions
Up to 8 Years Imprisonment – 10 Year License Suspension
Breath Test Refusals
Mandatory 1 Year License Suspension
Mandatory 2 Year License Suspension (If Prior OWI Conviction)
1st Offense Drunk Driving Level 6 Felony
Up to two and one half years incarceration/$10,000 fine
License Suspension of up to Two and One Half Years
Such cases are 1st offense circumstances such as Operating While Intoxicated allegations where a minor is present within the vehicle
Specialized Driving Privileges (Formerly Probationary/Hardship Licenses)
Can be imposed to allow for driving privileges for whatever purpose court allows. Prohibited in certain circumstances such as drunk driving with refusal, causing death, etc.
Such a license suspension must be imposed for at least 6 months in all cases. Where prior drunk driving convictions, ignition interlock devices, increased length of driving restrictions and other impediments may be required.
Drunk driving laws in Indiana have recently went through a major overhaul that has significantly altered legal strategies with which to best help clients in our care. As a result, it is now more important than ever to make sure to discuss these changes in drunk driving penalties with legal counsel who have devoted their respective practices to keeping up to date with the latest developments.
25 Years Of DUI Defense Experience Within All Indiana Courts
Stark Law Offices, P.C. is a trusted authority on drunk driving laws and penalties throughout Indiana. With over three decades of experience, our representation has extended to nearly every one of Indiana’s 92 counties. With that said, one must be mindful of the fact that legal standards in the resolution of cases are not only different throughout the nation, but also within each county in the state.
As a result, it is critical that your attorney have a thorough working knowledge of how to best protect our clients depending upon the county court we’re in together. Throughout my website I have tried to include real world information not easily found elsewhere to aid you in finding the best attorney to protect you.
We do not allow our clients to be taken advantage of. The role of a county prosecutor is not always in synch with that of the interests of a defendant being sentenced. Too frequently, a self interested prosecutor used to dealing with a local general practice attorney will seek unreasonable outcomes without regard to the impact such owi penalties can have on a defendant and/or loved ones adversely effected.
Everyone makes mistakes in life. Where a client’s case cannot be dismissed without the risk of trial, it is essential that your lawyer ensure that any sentence is one that preserves employment, limits undue license suspensions and recognizes the unique needs of a client’s home and/or family circumstances.
One being represented in an impaired driving prosecution must be kept informed every step of the way as to what is going on with their case and why as we work together on the best results possible for our clients. Unfortunately, each month we are asked to take over the cases of good people who may have not had the best legal representation. Many times attorneys who may have had the best of intentions did not have the experience and/or knowledge as to how to best represent a client in their care.
It is possible that such an attorney has not devoted their practice to understanding drunk driving laws or is a lawyer in one community who may be unfamiliar with the workings of a different county where the case is being prosecuted. In other more unfortunate cases, attorneys might not have had the care or desire to fully inform their client as to the developments of their case or simply refused to timely respond to reasonable inquiries about their representation.
An attorney’s responsiveness is essential not only in keeping a client informed of the legal process but also in terms of the filing of timely pre trial motions with the court that can enhance the prospect of a dismissal and/or provide leverage in securing the best results possible on behalf of a concerned client.
We believe that knowledge is power. Clients are not to be ignored. Clients in our care are to be educated as to dui penalties in Indiana in clear language that can be easily understood. As top defense attorneys our role is to listen and also to learn. Only by learning and understanding a client’s unique circumstances are we best in position to provide needed help and guidance no matter the challenges a case may present to us.
When you or a loved one is in need of legal care it is always the best policy to call me for free, anytime. Only by personal contact can we address the unique facts of your case and determine how we can be of help.
Where a case cannot be dismissed and a favorable agreement can be worked out between attorney and prosecutor, a judge has the power to accept and/or reject the agreement. The most favorable agreement terms are of little use if a judge will not order the terms worked out on a client’s behalf. As a result, your attorney must not only know the best tactics and strategies for ensuring that terms beneficial to a client are worked out with a particular prosecutor, but a specific judge as well.
As each county is different, we’ll be pleased to discuss the unique policies of your specific Indiana county and how we can best get you protected in whatever court you’re in.
How An Experienced Drunk Driving Lawyer “Beats” DUI Prosecutions
Far and away the most effective means to have these cases dismissed is through what I call “Objective Evidence Challenges.” In other words, evidence that does not rely upon your word versus the police officer’s. It is in this area where the admissibility of the breath test or blood draw as well as how field sobriety have been conducted becomes a key issue as to whether charges can succeed in a court of law.
In accordance with rules governed by the Department of Toxicology the time, place and manner of breath testing must be strictly scrutinized in order to achieve the goal of suppressing such test results. Further, certification records of the breath test equipment as well as the officer’s ability to legally administer the test on the date in question must be aggressively reviewed. Indiana OWI laws require that breath test equipment must be certified and re certified once every 180 days. Officers must be certified and re certified once every 2 years.
Should both certifications prove valid, an analysis of the maintenance records of the breath test equipment must be undertaken. Although proper certifications will allow for the breath tests’ admissibility in Indiana, a verifiable record of maintenance and/or performance malfunctions of a given machine can often be used to undermine the credibility of the test result itself. It is in this area where toxicologists may be utilized to diminish the credibility of the state’s evidence and explain how the body absorbs alcohol. Significantly, depending upon the level of bac test, such experts can often cast doubt as to whether one was in a legal state of intoxication at the time first observed by the officer as opposed to when the test was ultimately conducted based upon body absorption rates. Further, how the officer conducted the breath test, whether proper procedures were followed and whether the test was given within a three hour window of time must always be investigated.
Where blood draw results are the foundation of the state’s case, it is imperative that a proper “chain of custody” be investigated. Without clear and concise records to determine the whereabouts and identification of a given blood sample, the state will be unable to introduce such evidence. In addition, how the vial of blood has been stored as well as how it has been treated and/or maintained will often be a deciding question as to whether guilt can be established. It is not uncommon for medical providers and their employees to be unfamiliar with the maintenance requirements necessary for the admissibility of blood evidence as related to these prosecutions. It is up to your attorney to investigate these potential weaknesses as related to blood draw cases.
The second prong in the successful attack against prosecutions revolve around the issue of field sobriety testing. Although police officers may utilize countless methods to detect drunk driving in their own unique ways, there exist but three approved methods for field sobriety testing nationwide. Such approved testing encompasses: 1.) The Gaze Nystagmus Test. This test measures the movement of the eye as a basis to detect impairment. It should go without mention that such visual observation, often at night, or in hazardous roadway conditions is only as reliable as the officer performing such testing. Persistent cross examination in this area will usually uncover that the officer’s conduct in some way was not in accordance with the approved testing methods governed by NHTSA. 2.) The Walk and Turn Test. Such testing measures physical coordination by having one walk heel to toe and then back to the officer in a prescribed method. Once again, cross examination often yields a significant difference in the approved NHTSA method for conducting such testing and the actions of the Indiana officer. 3.) Lastly, the One Leg Stand is the final approved method for detection of impairment. Often a jury has been entertained by a police officer who is unable to perform such a test within trial and presumably sober. In such testing the suspect is commanded to stand on one leg counting in the manner instructed by the officer. It is your attorney’s obligation to square how such a test was conducted with approved NHTSA methods. Where a test officer might have physical limitations of his own, it is never a bad idea to allow him to demonstrate his own performance of such a test before a jury.
Speaking as a defense lawyer of twenty five years, it is important not to lose hope. As a case is investigated and we embark on what is called the “discovery” process, the most challenging cases can often be won. Through this investigative process called discovery, the skilled lawyer has the ability to utilize drunk driving laws in Indiana to uncover evidence that will many times allow a prosecution to go from a potential nightmare to a mere nuisance. At the conclusion of the discovery investigative process, your attorney’s efforts at investigating the case can often point out potential weaknesses to a prosecuting attorney; weaknesses that can provide an experienced trial attorney needed leverage in extracting the most favorable terms possible on your behalf. In the best of cases it is entirely possible for initial charges to be dismissed or reduced without trial. No two prosecutions are the same. Although each case may be different, our goal is always to do everything legally possible to utilize all available drunk driving laws to secure the best possible outcome for one who has entrusted us to their dui defense.
Whether you require a drunk driving attorney in Indianapolis or any one of Indiana’s 92 counties, I have been there and know how to protect you or someone you care for.