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What is the Most Common Sentence for a First DUI?

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Criminal Defense | 0 comments

If you were caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the state of Indiana, you probably have a lot of questions. One question that weighs heavily on people who have been charged with a first time DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or OWI (Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated) as it’s commonly known in Indiana, is what the potential penalties are for a first time offense?

If this is a first time DUI offense, you might be imagining the worst case scenario— jail time, revoked driving privileges, and other significant penalties. However, if you have no prior convictions and there are no circumstances that would result in enhanced penalties, your first DUI offense doesn’t have to be devastating. Read on to learn more about what to expect with your first offense DUI. 

Contact Zentz & Roberts Criminal Offense Attorneys Today at 317-220-6056.

What Is a First Offense DUI?

A DUI arrest occurs if:

  • A driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or higher if they’re over 21; if it’s underage drunk driving, a BAC of .02% or higher will have consequences.  For Commercial Drivers, it is a BAC of .04% or higher.
  • Any amount of a controlled substance (schedule I or schedule II) is present in a driver’s system, including hallucinogenic drugs, marijuana, cocaine, opiates, or methamphetamines

Can I Get a Washout Period in Indiana?

In the state of Indiana, a DUI conviction will stay on your record forever; in some states, that’s not the case. People subjected to first offense DUI convictions who do not have a second incidence of driving under the influence within a set number of years are subject to a “washout” period.

Indiana, however, does not offer its residents that option. A first offense DUI will stay on your criminal record forever, but it will be a misdemeanor DUI conviction, provided circumstances for enhanced penalties aren’t present. First time DUI offenders will retain that DUI charge on their record, but it won’t be a felony.

Factors that Influence the Sentencing of First-Time DUI Offenders

The circumstances for more severe penalties for first offense DUI charges include:

  • OWI/DUI Offense with a passenger under the age of 18— this will result in a Class D felony
  • An OWI/DUI that caused bodily harm to another person— this will result in a Class D felony
  • OWI/DWI that resulted in another person’s death— this will result in a Class C felony
  • OWI/DWI with a BAC of .15% or higher— this will result in a Class A misdemeanor

Naturally, if charged with any of the above, the driver would face more severe consequences than typical first time offenders would. Any DUI convictions are to be avoided, but a felony carries with it additional jail time, higher fines, and more.

Wet Reckless Charge

In the state of Indiana, an individual who didn’t cause any injuries to others while driving drunk and who believes that they would be unduly impacted by a drunk driving conviction can seek a wet reckless charge. This essentially means that the driver pleads guilty to reckless driving involving alcohol.

The driver will have their license temporarily revoked and will likely pay fines, but there won’t be a drunk driving verdict on their criminal record forever. An attorney can assist a first time offender who believes this plea would be appropriate for them.

You’ve Been Arrested for Driving Under the Influence— Now What?

Often, if you’re drunk driving or driving under the influence, you’ll be pulled over because of reckless driving that endangered yourself or others. If you are arrested for drunk driving or driving while under the influence of any illegal substances in Indiana, whether it’s your first offense or not, you and your vehicle will both be searched. You’ll be escorted to the police station for processing and your vehicle will be towed at your own expense.

You’ll be subject to a breathalyzer test or a test to determine if you’re under the influence of another substance. If you are over the legal limit, you’ll be charged with a DUI/OWI and will likely have to post bond to be released from jail. Your jail time will depend on how long it takes to get the funds together to be bonded out.

Your license suspension occurs before your DUI conviction; however, a driver facing a DUI conviction can petition for special driving privileges or appeal the license suspension outright. It’s important that you avoid driving with your license suspended.

Eventually, one of the prosecutors responsible for DUI cases will pursue a criminal charge against you based on evidence provided to them by the police.

The legal process may take some time. If your criminal charges result in a DUI conviction, the court will impose appropriate criminal penalties, including probation, jail time, fines, and more.

What Can First Time DUI Offenders in Indiana Expect If They’re Charged?

State laws vary, but in Indiana, DUI offenses are very serious. A driver charged with their first DUI/OWI offense for the first time can typically expect the consequences outlined below.

Jail Time

What is the most common sentence for a first DUI? For a first time OWI/DUI offense, if the driver’s BAC was under .15%, offenders could get 30 to 60 days of jail time. If the OWI/DUI charge resulted from a BAC over .15%, jail time can increase up to one year.

If it’s your first DUI offense, your jail time will likely occur in a county jail. First time DUI convictions do not carry with them mandatory jail sentences; however, repeat offenders charged with a DUI for the second time in seven years are required to serve at least five days of jail time.

If you face multiple convictions, it’s safe to assume your jail time will increase significantly; your jail sentence will depend on how many DUI charges you’ve accrued.

License Suspension

As stated above, as soon as a driver is charged with a DUI/OWI, automatic license suspension occurs. If the driver refuses to submit to BAC testing, they automatically face driver’s license suspension for one year, regardless of whether it’s their first DUI offense or not. You may not be able to obtain restricted license access under these circumstances.

Typically, the length of driver’s license suspension time ranges from 90 days to 2 years for a first offense DUI. After 30 days, the court may grant the driver restricted license access, with driving permitted under specific circumstances or with the use of an ignition interlock device.


It’s possible that drivers charged with a first offense DUI could be subject to probation with community service in lieu of jail time. An experienced lawyer can help you negotiate this during your DUI sentencing. Probation ranges from 6 months to two years, typically, and requires very specific conditions.

A first time DUI offender with probation might be expected to check in with a probation officer in person or on the phone on a regular schedule; they might also be assigned community service and required to undergo random drug or alcohol testing.

Establishments where alcohol is served are to be avoided, and the offender might be required to install an ignition interlock device, which would require them to undergo a breathalyzer test prior to driving. This installation would be on the offender’s dime.

Be sure to serve assigned community service hours and ensure that you get that ignition interlock device installed, or you might be accused of violating your probation.

If any of the conditions of probation are violated at any time, even if it’s a first DUI offense, the offender could be subject to jail time, forced to serve the original sentence.


If it’s a first time DUI offense, a driver will likely pay fines up to $500 if their blood alcohol content was under .15%. If the DUI resulted from a BAC over .15%, even if it’s the first offense, the fine can go as high as $5000.

This doesn’t include court costs or any other costs incurred, such as towing or the cost of installing an ignition interlock device. The costs vary depending on the penalties imposed by the court.

Required Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program

Depending on the conditions handed down at your trial, you might be required to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program.

These treatment programs can be utilized as pre-trial diversion programs, which are typically only offered to first time offenders who have committed nonviolent crimes. Diversion programs can also be utilized for a minor convicted of OWI/DUI.

What is the most common sentence for a first DUI? If a first time DUI offender is required to undergo a drug and alcohol treatment program, it will likely begin with a substance abuse evaluation to determine the best treatment plan. This could include individual or group therapy, depending on the needs of the patient. If this is your first DUI conviction, please consider entering a treatment program to ensure this is your last.

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Assist You After Your First DUI Conviction?

In Indiana, an experienced criminal defense attorney is a must if you have been charged with a DUI. They can help you ensure that you get less jail time, minimal fines, and can assist you with a plea bargain to minimize your probation or the time your license is suspended.

If you have questions about the validity of your charges, it’s vital to engage the services of a good DUI lawyer to help you fight against a conviction that could stain your record for the rest of your life. The attorneys at Zentz & Roberts will fight for you! Call the firm today at 317-220-6056.

Contact the Criminal Defense Lawyers at Zentz & Roberts For a Free Consultation Today!

***Please note: This page is not intended to give specific legal advice but is meant for information purposes only. Contact us to discuss your case***