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Defending a Charge for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated in Indianapolis: It's Never Simple

There are few criminal offenses as complex as operating a vehicle while intoxicated ("OVWI," sometimes called "DUI"). Consider, that to prove even a "simple" charge for operating, which is a Class C Misdemeanor in the State of Indiana, the State must show that a Defendant: 1) Operated a vehicle and 2) was "intoxicated."

Simple, right? Not even close. Even here, the case is quite complex. This is because the terms "operate," "vehicle" and, especially, "intoxicated" are all legal terms that have been defined by law and debated over by lawyers and judges for decades. What does it mean to "operate" a car, for example? Well, the Indiana Code says that “Operate” means to "navigate or otherwise be in actual physical control of a vehicle, motorboat, off-road vehicle, or snowmobile." Ind. Code § 9-13-2-117.5. Ok, so what does "physical control" mean? Is steering with the engine off enough? Does the engine need to be on at all? As you can see, there's ample room to debate the issue. 

If the State wishes to make its charge a Class A misdemeanor, then it gets even messier. In that case, the government must demonstrate that the Defendant "endangered" another person. And that raises a host of other issues and concerns.  All this before we even begin to talk about:  

  • whether the police had the right to pull the vehicle over;  
  • whether the police had the right to demand a breath test;  
  • whether the police performed the field sobriety tests in accordance with National Health Traffic and Safety Administration guidelines;
  • whether the police officer was qualified as a drug recognition expert;
  • whether the police performed the chemical test correctly and in appropriate time periods;  

If you've been charged with OVWI, you need an attorney who won't overlook the details. You'll find one at the Law Office of Jesse K. Sanchez.