Getting OWIs while you have another passenger leads to heavier penalties

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2023 | DUI

When an officer pulls you over on an Indiana road for a traffic stop and finds out that your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is at least .08%, they can charge you with operating while intoxicated (OWI). Drunk driving is an offense in the state and comes with penalties if you’re convicted.

But you can face even harsher punishments if there was another passenger with you at the time of the traffic stop.

The penalties

If an officer determines that your intoxication made you operate your vehicle in a way that endangers another person, such as another adult passenger, you could face a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you must serve up to a year in prison and pay as much as $5,000 in fines.

The penalty becomes even more severe if you have a passenger under 18 during the traffic stop. If you’re convicted, you face a Level 6 felony with a maximum 30-month prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines.

Both these penalties will combine with any other punishments you face after an OWI conviction. This includes fines, jail time and license suspensions or revocations, on top of criminal convictions on record. You might also be ordered to install an ignition interlock device if you apply for a restricted license during the suspension period.

OWIs are already intimidating enough to handle. However, facing additional charges for endangering a passenger can lead to longer sentences and even a criminal felony conviction when low-level OWIs are only misdemeanors. With so many things happening in your case, you might want to speak with legal counsel to better understand your options during the court hearing.