Operating While Intoxicated

Operating While Intoxicated

Operating “Per Se”

Drunk driving is commonly referred to as DWI or DUI for Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence.  In Indiana the offense of drunk driving is classified as Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated or Operating a Vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath/100 ml of blood or greater.  

For convenience, we will refer to all Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated offenses as “OWI.”  

OWI is a Strict Liability offense.  If the prosecutor can prove that a person’s blood/breath alcohol concentration was at least 0.08% or greater within three hours of operating a vehicle, the person may be convicted of Operating “Per Se.”  “Per se” is a Latin phrase which means, “by or in itself.”  Even if the person appeared to be “sober as a judge,” it does not matter.  

The same logic extends to Intoxication. 

The Indiana Appellate Court has referred to the language in an Illinois Court of Appeals decision as follows: The act of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is a voluntary act in the eyes of the law, and the duty to refrain from doing so is one that in the interests of public safety must be enforced by strict criminal liability without the necessity of proving a culpable state of mind.

So, it is not a defense to allege that you did not “mean” or “intend” to become intoxicated or have an Alcohol Concentration Equivalent of 0.08% or greater.


“Intoxicated” means under the influence of:

(1) alcohol;

(2) a controlled substance (as defined in IC 35-48-1);

(3) a drug other than alcohol or a controlled substance;

(4) a substance described in IC 35-46-6-2 or IC 35-46-6-3;

(5) a combination of substances described in subdivisions (1) through (4); or

(6) any other substance, not including food and food ingredients (as defined in IC 6-2.5-1-20), tobacco (as defined in IC 6-2.5-1-28), or a dietary supplement (as defined in IC 6-2.5-1-16);

so that there is an impaired condition of thought and action and the loss of normal control of a person’s faculties.

It is important to note that you that Alcohol is not the only substance that can cause a person to become Intoxicated and therefore criminally liable under the Indiana OWI laws.  

What does this mean?  This means that you could be charged and convicted of OWI for taking your legally prescribed medication.  So it is important that you strictly follow and adhere to the direction of your prescribing physician when taking your prescriptions.

OWI Drugs

A person who operates a vehicle with a controlled substance listed in schedule I or II of IC 35-48-2 or its metabolite in the person’s blood commits a Class C misdemeanor.

If you consume illegal drugs, it is illegal in and of itself  and in any amount to operate a vehicle with the drugs or its metabolites in your blood.  It does not matter whether or not the drug or metabolite caused you to become intoxicated.