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When may I need to defend against an OWI charge in Indiana?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Indiana’s statutes allow law enforcement officials to file operating while intoxicated charges, which do not require proof you actually drove a car. As reported by the IndyStar, an officer may file an OWI charge for “operating” a parked vehicle while intoxicated.

The law does not define operating, but an officer may interpret “operating” to include having control of a vehicle’s ignition. If, for example, you sat in a parked car with its motor running, it may have attracted an officer’s attention. Before filing charges, however, the officer must have a reasonable belief that you consumed alcohol.

How may an officer find signs of alcohol?

Blood-shot eyes or an alcoholic odor may raise suspicions you had a few drinks. While sitting in your car, an officer might notice an open container of beer or liquor on the passenger seat. The officer may request that you perform a field sobriety test.

Under Indiana’s implied consent law, holding a Hoosier State driver’s license generally means that a motorist agrees to a breath test when asked. By refusing, you could face penalties such as a suspended driver’s license. Submitting to a roadside breath test may provide a blood alcohol content level that an officer could use to file OWI charges.

May I dispute the results of a breath test?

A New York Times investigation found that portable breath test devices do not always provide accurate readings. Without proper device calibration, officers may file charges based on faulty test results. In the most extreme cases, device readings showed BAC test results 40% higher than the actual levels.

As noted by WebMD, gum or mouthwash may also cause abnormal BAC readings. If you believe an officer filed charges because of a faulty breath test result, a strong defense may counter the evidence and avoid harsh penalties.