Criminal Defense Attorney in Indiana for DUI and OWI Cases




A DUI or OWI conviction can have far-reaching consequences that can significantly impact your life. Beyond the implications for your criminal record, individuals facing DUI or OWI charges in Indiana may encounter severe legal repercussions as a result of their convictions. Attempting to navigate such complex legal matters on your own is not advisable, as the consequences may haunt you for years to come. What you truly need is a skilled Indianapolis OWI attorney who is committed to vigorously defending your rights and challenging your charges.

DUI vs. OWI: Understanding the Terminology

Many of our potential clients often inquire about the distinction between DUI and OWI. In the state of Indiana, these terms are essentially interchangeable. DUI and OWI are merely different abbreviations used to describe the same offense: Operating While Intoxicated.

Indiana OWI/DUI Laws Explained

Throughout the United States, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher for individuals aged 21 or older. If you are under the legal drinking age, even as little as .02 percent of alcohol in your system can lead to criminal charges. For those holding commercial driver’s licenses and operating commercial vehicles, the legal limit is .04 percent.

Whenever your BAC surpasses the legal limit, you may face charges of driving under the influence (DUI) or operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). Regardless of the terminology used by you or the prosecution, securing the services of a local DUI attorney is essential to mount a robust defense. A seasoned and tenacious criminal defense lawyer will carefully assess your circumstances, chart the most effective legal strategy, and advocate for the best possible resolution to your case.


Assert your right to remain silent immediately. Law enforcement officers will likely question you both during the traffic stop and afterward. As soon as you recognize the seriousness of the situation, clearly inform an officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent until you have legal representation present. This is your constitutional right. Subsequently, refrain from answering any questions and do not sign any written statements.

BAC Testing in Relation to an OWI

During a DUI stop, a law enforcement officer might request that you use a portable breath test device, commonly known as a breathalyzer. It’s important to note that you have the right to decline this test. However, refusing a roadside breath test does not prevent an officer from proceeding with an arrest.

Following an arrest, you may be required to undergo a urine, breath, or blood test. Under Indiana’s implied consent law (IC §9-30-6-1), you have essentially agreed to comply with any chemical tests requested if you are arrested for driving under the influence. Refusing to participate in any of these tests could result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. It’s worth noting that this suspension is a civil penalty, not a criminal consequence, though it can be used against you in court and may lead to enhanced penalties upon a DUI conviction.

However, if you decline a warrantless request for a blood sample, you typically only face civil penalties, without additional criminal repercussions.

If you have refused any BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) test, whether before or after an arrest, it’s advisable to consult with an OWI attorney to understand how this decision may impact your case. Upon refusing a post-arrest chemical test, you should receive immediate notice of your license suspension. It’s crucial to act promptly to contest this suspension, so don’t hesitate to contact Alex Mendoza Law for assistance.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs)

A tactic employed by law enforcement officers to detect potential signs of intoxication is the administration of standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). These tests may include the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, where your eyes track a moving object. Importantly, it’s crucial to know that you are not legally obligated to participate in these tests. You have the right to refuse one or all of these tests, and your refusal cannot result in any civil or criminal penalties.

In the event that you did undergo one or more SFSTs and were subsequently arrested, it’s imperative to contact an OWI attorney from GDS Law Group, LLP without delay. SFSTs, which are physical assessments, are often characterized by inaccuracies and unreliability, leading to potential false evidence against you. Our legal team will assess the most effective strategies to counter SFST evidence in a court of law

Indiana OWI Charges and Defense

At Alex Mendoza Law, our dedicated team is prepared to provide strong defense against various OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) charges, including:

1. Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI) (IC §9-30-5-1(A)): If your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) falls within the range of .08 to .15 percent while operating a vehicle, you will face a Class C misdemeanor OWI charge. The experience of being charged with OWI for the first time can be If you suddenly find yourself accused of drunk driving and unsure of how you got there, don’t hesitate to seek assistance. At Alex Mendoza Law, we are prepared to defend you against these charges.

2. OWI with a High BAC (IC 9-30-5-1(B)): Having a BAC at or above .15 percent results in a Class A misdemeanor charge. 

3. Drugged Driving (IC §9-30-5-1(C)): Operating a vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance or its metabolite in your system leads to Class C misdemeanor

4. OWI that Endangers Others (IC §9-30-5-2(B)): OWI incidents that put one or more people at risk, whether they are passengers in your vehicle, occupants of another vehicle, or pedestrians, can result in Class A misdemeanor charges. Disputes may arise between you and the prosecutor regarding whether your actions endangered others. If you believe you are facing an excessive DUI charge, contact a DUI attorney promptly. An assertive attorney may be able to seek a reduction in

 5. Subsequent OWI (IC §9-30-5-3): Most DUI charges in Indiana are classified as misdemeanors, but not always. You may face a Level 6 felony OWI charge if you have a prior DUI conviction within the past five years or if you had at least one minor in the A Level 5 felony OWI charge awaits those with a previous DUI conviction that resulted in serious bodily injury or death.

 6. OWI that Injures Others (IC §9-30-5-4): If you are accused of committing an OWI or drugged driving, irrespective of your BAC being over the legal limit, and it resulted in serious bodily injury to at least one other person, you will be charged with a Level 6 felony. With a previous DUI conviction, this becomes a Level 5 felony charge.

When Facing Felony DUI Charges, Seek Immediate Legal Representation

If you ever find yourself confronted with felony DUI charges, it’s imperative to promptly enlist the services of an experienced DUI defense attorney. Felony charges carry significant consequences, and minimizing their impact on your record is of utmost importance. Our legal team at Mendoza Law Office is fully prepared to take on your case and advocate for the most favorable outcome.

FATAL OWI (IC §9-30-5-5)

In cases where law enforcement believes you committed an OWI or drugged driving, regardless of whether your BAC exceeded the legal limit, and your actions resulted in the death of at least one other person, you will be charged with a Level 5 felony.

However, this offense escalates to a Level 4 felony if any of the following conditions apply:

  1. You have a prior DUI/OWI conviction within the preceding 10
  2. Your driving permit or license was revoked or suspended at the time of the
  3. Your driving privileges were suspended due to being designated a habitual
  4. Your BAC registered at .15 percent or higher at the time of the “

When your actions behind the wheel result in another person’s fatality, and the prospects of acquittal appear slim, your primary focus should shift towards minimizing the repercussions of a conviction. At Alex Mendoza Law, we have handled a wide range of OWI cases in which the likelihood of a ‘not guilty’ verdict was limited. Our unwavering commitment is always geared towards securing the best possible outcome in your case, which may involve efforts to mitigate penalties in the event of a conviction, including the potential reduction of any incarceration duration.

Penalties for Indiana OWI

In the event of an OWI conviction in Indiana, the potential penalties hinge on the offense’s classification, the presence of any mitigating or aggravating factors, and your criminal history. The penalties include:

Class C Misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and fines reaching $500.

Class B Misdemeanor: A maximum of 180 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000.

Class A Misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Additional penalties that you may face encompass:

  • Home confinement.
  • Months or years of probation.
  • Community service.
  • Driver’s license suspension.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you operate.
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug abuse assessment and treatment.
  • Attendance at a victim impact panel.
  • Requirement for SR-22 insurance.


When facing an OWI charge, it’s crucial to be fully informed about the potential worst-case scenario while also having a skilled drunk driving attorney by your side to advocate for the best possible outcome. Contact Drunk Driver Attorney Alex Mendoza for an impartial assessment of your case and to explore the most effective defense strategies.


DUI charges typically arise when driving with a BAC of .08 or higher. As previously mentioned, most OWI charges are categorized as misdemeanors. However, certain circumstances can elevate the charge to a felony. These factors include:

Prior Offenses: A prior DUI conviction within the last 7 years can lead to a Level 6 felony OWI charge, even if your BAC was only slightly over the legal limit. Additionally, if you were previously convicted of OWI, resulting in serious injury or death, you may face a Level 5 felony with more severe penalties.

Minor Passengers: Having at least one passenger in the vehicle who is under 18 years old can result in a Level 6 felony charge, even for a first-time DUI offender with a barely elevated BAC.

Serious Bodily Injury: Causing serious bodily injury to another person can lead to a Level 5 OWI offense, and this charge may escalate to a Level 4 felony if you have a prior DUI conviction within the past five years. Multiple charges may be filed if multiple individuals were injured. Indiana law defines serious bodily injury as an injury that poses a significant risk of death or results in severe permanent disfigurement, unconsciousness, extreme pain, permanent loss or impairment of a bodily organ or member, or loss of a fetus.

Death or Catastrophic Injury: Under Section 9-30-5-5 of the Indiana Code, causing death or catastrophic injury due to driving while intoxicated is considered a Level 4 felony. Similar to other scenarios, separate charges can be filed for each person harmed. “Catastrophic injury” is defined as bodily injury so severe that it significantly impairs a person’s ability to live independently for at least one year, including blindness, paralysis, or intellectual disability.

Distinguishing between “catastrophic injury” and “serious bodily injury” may not always be straightforward, making it vital to have a seasoned attorney on your side to defend against potential heavier charges.

The Penalties Associated with Felony OWI

The penalties you may face for a felony OWI conviction are contingent on various factors, including the circumstances of your case and any previous OWI convictions. The consequences for each level of felony OWI are as follows:

  • Level 6 Felony: A sentence ranging from six months to 5 years in prison, accompanied by fines of up to $10,000.
  • Level 5 Felony: A prison term spanning from one to six years, along with fines of up to $10,000.
  • Level 4 Felony: Sentences that range from two to 12 years in prison, accompanied by fines of up to $10,000.

    OWI Probation Violation Charges

    Upon an OWI conviction, you are likely to be placed on probation for a specified period. The length of your probation is determined by the severity of your conviction and any associated incarceration sentences.

    Probation entails strict adherence to a set of rules, as well as regular contact with a probation officer. These requirements can be stringent, encompassing alcohol monitoring devices, random BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) testing, and restrictions on entering bars or liquor stores. A fundamental aspect of probation is to refrain from any unlawful activities. Any violations of the law or your probation conditions will result in a court appearance and potential charges for a new, separate offense.

    Examples of OWI probation violations encompass:

    – Driving with a suspended license

    – Operating a vehicle beyond the limitations of your probationary driving privileges

    – Failure to install an ignition interlock device when mandated

    – Tampering with a urine sample

    – Enlisting someone to breathe into your ignition interlock device to enable driving after consuming alcohol 

    Consequences for probation violations can be swift and severe. If you are on probation linked to a work-release program or home detention and violate the probation terms, you may be promptly transferred to incarceration for the remainder of your sentence.

    If you find yourself facing an OWI/DUI arrest in Indiana” we encourage you to reach out to us and discover our strategic approach to your optimal defense. Let us help you dispel the uncertainty and anxiety of the situation by securing the services of attorney Alex Mendoza now.

    At Alex Mendoza Law, LLC, our lawyers are always looking for ways to get an edge over the competition. Whether in the office or in the courtroom, we are working hard on your case.

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    About Us

    Alex Mendoza Law handles automobile, motorcycle, and semi-truck collisions; slip and falls; and sexual abuse cases. If you’ve been injured or harmed, physically or mentally, because of someone else’s negligence or intentional conduct, let us help! Our skilled attorneys are licensed in Indiana and Illinois, with offices conveniently located in Hammond, Indiana, and downtown Chicago, in the Loop area. Visit to learn more about our firm, and look at our Google page to see dozens of reviews from satisfied clients.