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Lafayette Indiana DUI Lawyer Frequently Asked Questions

If you have been arrested for DUI in Lafayette, Indiana, the experience can be traumatic and frightening. After a DUI traffic stop in Tippecanoe County, you are asked to submit to a breath test and field sobriety tests; you are taken to the Tippecanoe County Jail and can be held in custody for hours; your driver’s license is taken from you; and you are assigned an initial hearing date at court.  Upon being released from jail, you are issued citations for Operating While Intoxicated Causing Endangerment or Operating with an Alcohol Concentration Equivalent of .08 or .15. The initial hearing assigned may not be for weeks, and you are left to wonder what will happen to your driver’s license and whether you should expect jail time.

An experienced Lafayette DUI attorney can give you specific feedback on what to expect based on the facts of your case, including realistic goals for plea agreement negotiation. A criminal lawyer with significant trial experience can also evaluate the evidence in your case for a possible trial.

The police took my driver’s license. Can I legally drive?

When you are arrested for DUI, the police take your driver’s license and provide you with a receipt for the license. You can continue to legally drive until you are suspended by the BMV or ordered not to drive by the court.

How long will my driver’s license be suspended for a first time DUI in Tippecanoe County?

Your driver’s license will be ordered suspended at your Initial Hearing for a period of 180 days. If this is your first Operating While Intoxicated charge, the range of possible suspension is 0 days to 2 years. An experienced attorney can help you get back on the road as soon as possible. In some counties, a zero license suspension can be negotiated early in the case.

Will I have to install an ignition interlock device in my car?

An ignition interlock device is an instrument that can be installed in your car to confirm that you have not been drinking in order for the vehicle to start. In Tippecanoe County DUI cases, whether you will be required to install an ignition interlock device depends on whether you consented to the breath test, were involved in an accident or have a criminal history, in addition to the breath test results and the nature of your driving. An experienced Lafayette DUI attorney can analyze the specific facts of your case and work to avoid ignition interlock when it is not warranted.

Why was I charged with three different things following my OWI arrest?

Indiana’s Operating While Intoxicated statute includes crimes that are based solely on the breath test result and other crimes based solely on intoxication. It is a Class C misdemeanor to operate a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent (“ACE”) of .08 or higher; and it is a Class A misdemeanor if your ACE is .15 or higher. You can also be charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), as a Class C misdemeanor; or OWI Causing Endangerment, as a Class A misdemeanor.

The first two charges are based solely on the breath test results and do not require the State to prove intoxication. The latter two charges do not require proof of a specific breath test result. Although you can be charged with multiple offenses under the OWI statute, you can only be convicted of a single count. While many people refer to a drunk driving arrest as a “DUI”, the technical legal term in Indiana is Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).

If my breath test was greater than .08, how can an OWI attorney help me?

In every OWI case, we do a detailed analysis of the traffic stop and administration of the field sobriety tests and breath test. There are strict legal requirements for breath test results to be admissible in court. If you have a viable challenge to the evidence, we will pursue that aggressively. At the same time, we have significant experience handling OWI cases and know the criteria and strategy that can lead to a more lenient plea agreement. Because your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days while the case is pending, we also understand that aggressive action is needed to get your license reinstated.

My Initial Hearing is not for a month. When should I contact an attorney?

In Operating While Intoxicated cases, it is important to hire a lawyer immediately. In Tippecanoe County, the formal DUI charges are typically filed a week to ten days prior to the initial hearing. When we are hired for a drunk driving case, we check daily for the filing of charges. Once the formal charges are filed, we can enter an Appearance, get a copy of the police reports, and start work. Retaining a lawyer before charges are filed can provide an extra week or more to work on your case before your license is suspended. 

If I am convicted of OWI, will it be on my record forever?

No. Under Indiana’s new expungement statute, misdemeanor OWI cases can be expunged five years after any conviction. Felony OWI cases can be expunged after 8 years.