An operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) charge is one of the most serious traffic violations in Indiana. When compared with a traffic ticket, an OWI is a very serious matter. However, people often think of OWIs as relatively minor criminal offenses, as when this infraction is compared with assault or embezzlement, it may not seem terribly serious.
Particularly when the arrest relates to a technical violation and not a crash, people often think that pleading guilty is the best approach, as their circumstances aren’t “that” dire. They don’t believe that fighting in OWI would be worth the effort or money that it would take. However, an OWI conviction in Indiana can result in a significant financial impact on the person accused. Generally, there are at least three different economic consequences that people will have to accept after an OWI conviction in Indiana.
Large fines and court costs
The circumstances leading to someone’s arrest, their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and even their prior driving record can influence how much they pay in fines. A high-BAC OWI can potentially cost someone up to $5,000 in fines or double that in felony cases. They will also have to pay court costs and driver’s license fees. Finally, they may also need to pay to install and maintain an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, which can add hundreds of dollars to the total court-related costs their OWI generates.
Increased insurance rates
The companies underwriting motor vehicle liability insurance policies in Indiana look at a variety of factors when determining how much to charge for coverage. Someone’s age, the community they live in and their sex can affect their premium. Any traffic infractions on their record can also have a direct impact on their insurance rates. The average driver in Indiana will see a 40% increase in their premium costs after an OWI. Those with more violations may see an even steeper increase or may no longer be eligible for coverage through the same insurance company.
Being able to pass a background check is crucial for someone who wants to obtain a new job or even a promotion with their current employer. Many companies perform background checks when making decisions about who to hire or promote. Although an OWI may not be as serious as a violent offense, it can have a major chilling effect on someone’s earning potential and career advancement. Additionally, losing a driver’s license will often put someone at risk of losing their job because they cannot reliably show up to work for the duration of their license suspension.
The best way to avoid the potentially long-term financial consequences of an OWI conviction in Indiana involves fighting those charges rather than simply pleading guilty. Developing a realistic understanding of what an OWI can mean for someone’s future may help a defendant to properly respond to their pending charges.