The Skill To Defend You

Does Indiana law incentivize drunk drivers to flee the scene?

Drunk driving is always a risky business. You might leave the bar after a few too many drinks and manage to make it home without getting caught. However, you might get pulled over and arrested, ending up with a suspended license, a few hundred dollars in fines and even serving up to a year in jail. Worse still, you run the risk of getting into an accident—and injuring or even killing someone else. If you kill another person while intoxicated behind the wheel, you’re now facing far more serious felony charges.

The worst-case outcome of drunk driving destroys lives and is extremely serious. In many states, if a driver severely injures or kills another person and then flees the scene, the penalties get even stiffer. However, an unusual loophole in Indiana’s law can actually lead to weaker penalties for a drunk driver who flees the scene after a hit and run.

If a drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 crashes, kills another person and stays at the scene until the police arrive, that person could face a class B felony charge of up to 20 years in prison. If, however, that same person crashes, flees the scene and is caught a day or two later—once their BAC has returned to normal—the prosecution would be unable to prove that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash, and the driver could only be charged with a class C felony and up to eight years in prison.

Many people find this law unfair to the victims in drunk driving cases. They are pushing for lawmakers to amend Indiana’s legislation in this area—in order to motivate the guilty party to take responsibility for their actions.