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Underage DUI in Indiana

In the state of Indiana, driving under the influence of alcohol while being under 21 years of age is a separate offense from the standard DUI. There are several elements to the charge of underage DUI.  The first element is perhaps the most obvious—the motorist must be under age.  In Indiana, the legal drinking age is 21 years of age.  Thus, any motorist who is determined to be driving under the influence of alcohol and is under 21 is in violation of the underage DUI laws.

The second element of the underage DUI charge is that the motorist’s blood alcohol concentration must exceed the legal limit pursuant to the underage DUI statute. A motorist under the age of 21 violates the underage DUI statute if he or she is found to have a blood alcohol concentration of not less than .02 grams but not more than .08 grams of alcohol per: (1) 100 milliliters of blood or, (2) 210 liters of breath, while operating a motor vehicle.

However, it is important to note that the lesser charge of driving under the influence of alcohol while being under 21 years of age is only available to those motorists that fall within the statutorily specified range of blood alcohol concentrations.  That is, if the motorist is found to have a blood alcohol concentration of less than .02 grams, he has committed no offense; however, if the motorist’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds .08 grams, he is not eligible to plead to the lesser charge and will instead be charged with at least a Class C misdemeanor.

A motorist that violates the underage DUI law commits a Class C infraction.  In cases in which the alleged violator is under the age of 16 and the charge, if committed by an adult, would have been a misdemeanor, the juvenile court has jurisdiction to hear the case and to pronounce a sentence. If the defendant is over 16 years of age, the violation if committed by an adult would have been more serious than a misdemeanor, or the violation was committed in conjunction with a more serious crime such as hijacking or kidnapping, the motorist is tried in the adult courts. The normal penalties for DUI apply to underage DUI. However, in addition to such standard penalties, the sentencing court may additionally impose a suspension of driving privileges on the motorist, not to exceed one year.

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