Effective July 1, 2019, Indiana extended the time period to seven years in which a prior operating while intoxicated (OWI) charge elevates a new OWI arrest to a Level 6 felony. Previously, an individual who committed an OWI could be charged with a Level 6 Felony if they had a previous conviction for operating while intoxicated, operating with an illegal blood alcohol concentration, or operating with a controlled substance in the body within the five years immediately preceding the date of the new offense. This change will result in a substantial increase in misdemeanor OWI arrests being elevated to a felony charge.
Misdemeanor Treatment Still Available for Level 6 Felony OWI Charge
Even though a person is charged with a Level 6 felony Operating While Intoxicated, it may still be possible to resolve the case as a misdemeanor and avoid a felony conviction. If the person has not had a prior Level 6 felony entered as a misdemeanor, less than three years prior to the new felony offense, he or she is eligible to have the judgment entered as a Class A misdemeanor. This can happen at Sentencing or at the end of a period of probation. If the offense is reduced to a misdemeanor, the OWI conviction records can be expunged in five years.
Experienced Felony OWI Defense Attorneys
If you are charged with a felony OWI, hiring an attorney with experience is extremely important. A Level 6 felony carries a penalty of up to 2 ½ years in jail and cannot be expunged for 8 years. An experienced OWI defense attorney can help develop a strategy to seek misdemeanor treatment and avoid or minimize jail time. Gibson Law Office has defended OWI charges for more than 20 years. With offices in Lafayette, Bloomington, Anderson, and Fort Wayne, our attorneys represent clients throughout Indiana. We only handle criminal cases. If you have been arrested, call Gibson Law Office today. We always offer a free initial phone consultation.