Penalties for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated (or OWI) is one of the most common criminal offenses, and one that can come with some serious penalties for repeat offenders. Attorney Mario Massillamany is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who possesses both the knowledge and skill set necessary to defend against such serious charges. If you or someone you know is searching for such a lawyer, please see the bottom of this article for Mr. Massillamany’s contact information. Otherwise, continue reading for a detailed explanation on the implications of OWI charges. 

The first time someone commits an OWI they are committing a Class C misdemeanor and are subject to imprisonment up to sixty days and a fine of not more than $500.  However, there are a number of factors that can increase this penalty based on the circumstances surrounding the offense and the number of times the person has been convicted of an OWI.

For the second conviction of an OWI, a person commits a Level 6 felony if it occurs within five years from the previous conviction and is subject to several different potential penalties.  First, a Level 6 felony is be punished by imprisonment from six months to two and a half years with the suggestion being one year and a fine of no more than $10,000.  Additionally, for the second conviction for an OWI, the person is subject to imprisonment for at least five days or 180 hours of community service and, if necessary, completion of an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program.

For the third conviction of an OWI, it is still a Level 6 felony, as long as it occurs within five years from the previous conviction.  The punishment for this is the same as it is for the second conviction.  However, the additional penalties are different for the third conviction.  A person will be subject to imprisonment of at least ten days or 360 hours of community service and, if necessary, completion of an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program.

Lastly, there is a potential to be labeled as a habitual vehicular substance offender if the person has two or three prior unrelated offenses.  If properly alleged and claimed by the prosecution, the court shall sentence the habitual offender to imprisonment from one year to no more than eight years to be added to the sentence already imposed.

Please drink responsibly.  Do not drink and drive.  If you do, you risk injuring others, yourself, and potentially ending up in jail for a long time. If you are going to go out and drink, get a designated driver, take a taxi or Uber, or, if possible, stay somewhere near you until it is safe to drive yourself again.

Mario Massillamany is a founding partner of Massillamany & Jeter LLP, a full-service law firm serving central Indiana.  For more information on this topic, please contact Mr. Massillamany at (317) 432-3443 or by e-mail at:


This article is not intended to serve as legal advice.  Should you have questions about this topic, you should consult with a licensed lawyer.

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