Stevens, Travis, & Fortin

Plymouth Indiana Attorneys at Law (574) 936-4041

119 W Garro Street, Plymouth Indiana  46563

OWI Defense

 

Read here what happens in Marshall County Indiana Superior Court 2 with on an OWI charge.

 

Commonly known as DUI, DWI, drunk driving, but in Indiana it is Operating While Intoxicate (OWI).  OWI can be a bit of a personal disaster, with short-term and long-term consequences.  A conviction will sit on your record for at least 8 years before you can start expungement proceedings to clear your record.

 

Here is a quick run-down of the OWI and related procedure in Marshall County:

  • You are stopped while operating (driving, sitting in/sleeping in while running) a vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, moped, boat, car, lawn mower, tractor, electric bike ) You fail a chemical test, either breathalyser (BAC), blood test (BAC), or urine test (THC and its metabolites).
  • You get arrested and jailed at the Marshall County jail until either
  • you bond out (can be done immediately after booking) for $1,500;
  • you sit for 48 hours in the clink without being charged;
  • or until your trial.
  • You must appear in person (no exceptions, not even for a decorated Marine Colonel who lived in Virginia) for an initial hearing (passing through metal detectors and emptying your pockets) on the second floor of the Marshall County Courthouse, at 8:30a on an upcoming Tuesday with many(!) other people (go earlier than 8:30a if you want a seat, as this can be a lengthy (but always less than a couple hours) bit of waiting to go before the judge, also related to the wait, the bathroom facilities in the courthouse are sparse); you do not need your lawyer to attend this hearing with you as it will make no difference in your case and it will be expensive;  you are called into the courtroom, grouped by type of charge (Superior Court 2 handles infractions and misdemeanors, not felonies), in the reverse order of your eventual appearance before the judge (at least you will have a seat in the courtroom);  then when you are finally called before the judge:
  • the judge reads your charges to you;
  • speaking clearly and respectfully, you plead "not guilty, Your Honor";
  • an administrative suspension of your driving privilege begins; you walk out the door.
  • You can ask for a court appointed lawyer at this initial hearing.  If you qualify, you will be granted a free public defender.  The public defenders in Marshall County are very good lawyers.  But qualifying for one is hard.  If, after your arrest, you were able to come up with bond money, the judge will likely tell you to use that bond money for a lawyer (which you can easily do by signing a bond assignment), and will not appoint a public defender.  Suggesting that the bond money is not yours but your family’s or a friend’s usually will not sway the judge to appoint a public defender.
  • After your initial hearing,
  • you’ll have a pre-trial conference (PTC) set for two months later on a Friday morning at 9a (this is an informal chat about your charges with a deputy prosecutor, who while very pleasant, is not there to help you; her job is to prosecute, as is in the job title; if you have an attorney, you will not have to attend this conference);
  • a change of plea (COP) date is set for six week later than the pretrial conference on a Wednesday morning at 10a.
  • Your lawyer reviews the evidence (police reports, test results, inventoried items) that the prosecutor intends to use against you.
  • Then what happens next depends on the facts of your case and your strategy (could be a suppression hearing, plea bargain, jury trial, bench trial, dismissal and expungement, petition to get a license to drive to work).

 

Length of the OWI DUI Court Process and Demands on Your Time

Recently there have been efforts made by the court to speed this process.  Depending on particular facts and strategies it has typically taken between two months and a year from failed chemical test to legal resolution of a case.

If you have a lawyer you will most likely make two trips to the courthouse.  The  first is for your initial hearing.  The second will be for a suppression hearing, the trial, or the plea submission.

Without a lawyer you will probably go four times total, initial hearing, pretrial conference (there is alway at least one), change of plea, and trial or submission of plea.

 

Expected OWI DUI Outcome

OWI's once charged are hard to defeat.  If you can't get the evidence suppressed, a conviction is likely.  Getting the evidence suppressed is a technical and time-consuming effort.  Fortunately there are many angles to consider for suppression opportunities.

OWI Conviction

If you take your OWI to trial and are convicted, your likely sentence will include a fine and costs of $500; participation in Marshall County Drug and Alcohol Program (MCDAP) which cost $400 and your time to meet with chemical dependency counselors and your time to follow their recommendations; a year of probation which is $50 plus $15 per month for reporting and has many onerous terms; some unpredictable jail time (at Marshall County jail, fortunately, and not Indiana Department of Corrections); drivers license suspension for up to 180 days.  Now, typically in an OWI case there are other charges also that may carry their own additional fines and penalties.

Accepting an OWI DUI Plea Offer

By accepting your guilt, and submitting to the will of the court, you show remorse and may reasonably ask the prosecutor not to push for the highest sentence.  You still will not like it, but it reduces the chances of getting the maximum sentience possible with a conviction for OWI.  The prosecutor will make a recommendation to the judge for a sentence that your lawyer will have negotiated with her.  The only leverage you really have with the prosecutor here is that she, like most of us, hates to lose.  If you are going to trial against her without a lawyer, she does not fear losing.  The sentence will be similar to that of a conviction above, but hopefully softened around the edges in a significant way.

Reduced Charge(s)

Mistakes happen.  Charges, enumerated as "counts" come from a police report, then to a probable cause affidavit, then to the discretion of the prosecutor.  Prosecutors make mistakes, of course.  But it is very important to them, fortunately, to get things right.  If we can point out to them that some lesser charge or no charge is more appropriate for the given facts they are quick to drop or amend counts.

OWI Dismissal and Expungement

Though challenging, this is where we want to land.  Dismissal means no fines, no jail, no probation.  And it means no record.  Following this with an expungement petition we can likely prevent your arrest and charges from being made available to future prying eyes.

 

Don't Do This Without an Attorney

You know what is on the line here (jail time, probation, mandated drug and alcohol counseling, disqualification from employment opportunities, higher insurance costs, increased penalties for subsequent OWI charges).  Do everything you can to avoid a conviction here.  Hire a lawyer to review the state's case against you.  If it looks like you can't avoid a conviction you will want someone on your side who is knowledgeable about the plea bargain process and experienced negotiating with the deputy prosecutor.  These things matter a lot.

ISBA Sustaining Member
ISBA Sustaining Member

Stevens, Travis, & Fortin

Attorneys (574) 936-4041

119 W Garro Street, Plymouth IN 46563

 

ISBA Sustaining Member
ISBA Sustaining Member
ISBA Sustaining Member