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Can a first-time OWI cost someone their driver’s license?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2024 | DUI

Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) offenses are common criminal charges in Indiana. People involved in collisions and those who fail breath tests may end up arrested for impaired driving and prosecuted for an OWI offense.

Those accused of breaking the law often worry primarily about the possibility of incarceration. Many people have heard horror stories about non-violent offenders spending months in jail. Other potential penalties include probation and financial penalties imposed by the courts. With certain kinds of offenses, the courts can also impose driver’s license penalties.

License suspension is a standard OWI penalty

Considering that an OWI offense involves violating state traffic statutes, it makes sense that one of the most common penalties is to suspend someone’s driver’s license. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and those who break the law may have to give up that privilege. No matter how much someone depends on private transportation, the courts have the option of suspending their license.

People who have had relatively safe driving records might assume incorrectly that the state may treat them more leniently for a first OWI conviction. Depending on their record, Indiana defendants could be at risk of losing their driver’s license for up to two years.

The license penalties for a first OWI conviction range from between 90 days to 24 months of driver’s license suspension. Someone who has a prior offense on their record could lose their driving privileges for even longer. A second conviction carries between 180 days and two years of license suspension. Third OWI convictions can lead to between one and 10 years without a license.

Contrary to what people often assume, there is no promise of lenient treatment after someone enters a guilty plea. The courts still impose standard penalties even when a defendant is cooperative. The only certain way to protect one’s driver’s license when accused of impaired driving is to fight back against those charges.

Defendants facing OWI charges in Indiana can potentially provide medical explanations or challenge the legality of a traffic stop. Regardless of how a defendant chooses to move forward in this regard, reviewing different defense strategies with a skilled legal team can help someone to limit the long-term consequences of a recent OWI arrest.