Allegations of operating while intoxicated (OWI) are among the most common criminal offenses in Indiana. Given that such charges are common and that OWI scenarios often do not involve property damage or injury to other individuals, people might think that their case will involve minimal consequences.

Some people only learn the hard way that pleading guilty to an OWI charge can have expensive and lasting consequences, even if it is a first offense with no aggravating factors.

What are the penalties for a first-time OWI charge?

If you plead guilty or are convicted, a first-time OWI can have significant penalties. You could lose your license for anywhere between 90 days and two years. You will also potentially have to serve up to 60 days in jail and pay $500 in fines as well as court costs and increased insurance rates when you get your license back.

It is also worth noting that a first-time conviction could put you at risk for much more serious penalties if you are arrested for an OWI again. A guilty plea basically leaves you at the mercy of the court both now and in the future.

Criminal penalties are not the only concern

Too many people charged with an OWI take the charge lightly because they presume they can avoid jail time or think that the criminal penalties aren’t so severe. However, jail time, probation and fines are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the impact of an OWI on your life.

The loss of your license can have social and career repercussions. A criminal record can impact everything from your housing situation and employment to future educational prospects. Talking with an experienced attorney is a good decision before you decide to plead guilty to an OWI charge.