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Elements of a DUI in Indiana

There are several elements to a violation of Indiana’s DUI laws.  The first element of a DUI violation is that the motorist must be operating the motor vehicle. The DWI statute requires that the motorist “operate” the motor vehicle while intoxicated. In defining the operation of a vehicle, Indiana courts have looked to the intent of the driver.  If the driver, was driving, appeared to have driven, or was intending to drive, a court is like to find that the driver operated the motor vehicle.  Several cases involving intoxicated individuals that have been discovered by the police have been decided in Indiana. These cases have turned on the apparent intent of the driver. In cases where the driver was at an intersection, on the side of the road or even in a snowbank, the courts found that the driver had demonstrated the intent to drive. However, the prosecution must prove the driver’s intent beyond any reasonable doubt.

The second element to the DUI violation is that the motorist must have a blood alcohol concentration that exceeds the legal limit while operating the motor vehicle. The maximum blood alcohol concentration that a driver may have in operating on a motor vehicle depends on the type of license the driver has and the age of the driver.  Persons under the age of 21 may not operate a motor vehicle and have a blood alcohol concentration equal to or exceeding .02%. Persons driving under a commercial vehicle license may not have a blood alcohol concentration equal to or exceeding .04%.  All other drivers may not have a blood alcohol concentration equal to or exceeding .08%. Evidence that a motorist was driving with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or exceeding the legal limit is prima facie evidence of the motorist’s intoxication.

If the prosecution charges a Class A misdemeanor, instead of a Class C misdemeanor, the motorist’s manner of driving is another element to the charge. In order for the Class C misdemeanor to be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor, the state must prove that the driver was driving in a manner that endangered himself, other drivers or the general public. There is no requirement that another person be in the path of the defendant’s vehicle to satisfy the endangerment requirement of the Class A misdemeanor. The only requirement is that the evidence shows that the defendant’s manner of driving could have harmed another person.  Evidence that the driver was speeding is sufficient to satisfy the endangerment requirement.


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