Many people ask what the difference is between OWI and DWI and other nicknames given to drunk driving offenses. The truth is, in the State of Indiana, all drunk driving laws are called OWI or Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated. There are several ways to be charged with a misdemeanor OWI offense.
First, a person can be charged with operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol. Such an offense is a Class C Misdemeanor. If the government also claims that you were a danger to persons on the roadway because of the impairment, then you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. Notice that none of these charges requires a breath test result. The government would only be required to prove that you were in fact impaired or intoxicated.
To prove impairment, officers rely on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests or SFSTs and their "experience and training." The attorneys at Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. are trained in attacking these methods. SFSTs are commonly given in the wrong manner and thus have no value in determining whether or not someone is intoxicated. Further, some officers are not well trained, and yet others have forgotten their training or have become complacent. Those shortcomings on the part of law enforcement must be attacked in order to properly and aggressively defend your rights.
Second, a person may be charged with being .08 up to .14. This offense, which is based on the amount of alcohol a person has in their body, is a Class C Misdemeanor. A .15 or above is a Class A Misdemeanor. And in this case, the government only has to prove that you were over the limit. They do NOT have to prove that you were actually impaired or drunk.
Therefore, it is possible for a sober person to be convicted of an OWI offense if he or she is above the limit. It is also possible for a person below the limit to be impaired enough to be convicted of being intoxicated.
When the government charges a person with an OWI, they usually charge the person with both the "impairment" offenses and the "breath test offenses". Their hope would be to convict a person of at least one. (Due to double jeopardy laws, a person generally cannot be convicted of both offenses for the same driving incident).
The laws are set up as they are for a reason. It has been historically difficult for the government to prove that someone is intoxicated. Thus, the breath testing and blood testing procedures have been developed to take as much subjectivity out of OWI prosecutions as possible, and make it easier to convict people of an OWI, whether they are impaired or not.
It is sometimes both difficult and expensive to attack a properly administered breath test. However, it can be done! Further, some tests are not properly administered in the first place. Such tests can potentially be suppressed by the Court and make a criminal case less complicated and less expensive to defend.
The attorneys of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. have been trained in defending against and attacking breath and blood tests used in OWI arrests. Further, our attorneys have been trained in vigorously questioning law enforcement regarding the issue of impairment.