The Skill To Defend You

Legal Terminology: C To D

Change Of Plea Hearing

In Indiana, this is the hearing time scheduled for your plea agreement to be given to the judge so that he/she can inspect it, and determine if he will accept it. In Monroe County, Indiana, you will be required to attend a video presentation of your constitutional rights and you must be present no later than 7:45 a.m., the morning of your plea.

Thereafter, attendance is taken and you will be required to fill out a form indicating that you attended and understood the video presentation. Some time after the video presentation, your case will be called before the judge and at that time, he/she will ask you if you plead guilty pursuant to your agreement.

If the judge rejects your plea bargain, he/she cannot impose his/her own sentence on you. He/she must return you to not guilty and we start again. The judge can only accept the agreement and follow its terms, or reject the agreement and put us back at the beginning of the case. The judge does not have the power to impose his/her terms on your plea bargain after he/she rejects your plea bargain contract.

Chemical Test

A measurement of your breath, blood, urine or other bodily substance for purposes of determining the presence and level of alcohol/ethanol or drugs. In Indiana, a police officer may offer more than one chemical test to a person so long as all chemical tests are completed within a three-hour period from the time the officer has probable cause.

In order to avoid a summary administrative suspension for refusing a chemical test, you must submit to every test the police officer offers you in order to comply with the requirements of your driving privilege.

It is not enough to claim that you took a test here or there (a portable breath test does not count) and therefore did not want or believe you needed to take subsequent tests. Indiana law is written to favor the police officer’s discretion so long as he/she acts reasonably with respect to offering you any number of chemical tests.

If you are deemed to have refused a chemical test, a search warrant may be issued for an involuntary blood draw so that in addition to the alleged refusal being used against you in court, there may also be blood test evidence.

Remember, refusal of a chemical test results in either a  one-year or a two-year summary administrative suspension of your driver’s license. You will not be eligible for a specialized driving privilege (you may be eligible for ignition interlock depending on whose court you are in). You may not receive credit for any time served toward an OWI/DUI post-conviction license suspension. The police officer MAY get a search warrant to draw your blood anyway. At Sam Shapiro Law Office, I recommend submitting to the chemical breath test.


For OWI/DUI purposes, in Indiana, if you are accused of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and one of your passengers is less than 18 years old, you can be charged with a felony for the OWI/DUI, if the prosecutor so chooses.

OR, if you are the driver of a vehicle and are less than 21 years of age, and, you are subject to a chemical test that shows a blood or breath alcohol level of at least .02% ACE but less than .08% ACE, then you are a minor operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a class C infraction.

Controlled Substance

In Indiana, controlled substances are defined for OWI purposes in Schedules I and II of our drug laws (IC 35-48-1 et. Seq.) and typically include marijuana, Valium, Xanax, Librium, etc.

The Indiana Supreme Court has held that even if you are not “high” under the effects of marijuana, for example (e.g., you smoked less than 30 days ago and the THC is still in your system), you can be charged and convicted of a ‘drug driving’ offense since marijuana is illegal PER SE and without regard to any impairment or intoxication at the time of driving.

Therefore, the level of marijuana detected does not preclude the prosecutor from charging you and if the jury determines that you fit the statute, your conviction may be upheld. Most prosecutors are more reasonable than this, I recently obtained dismissals where the nanograms (this is how THC is measured) were minimal and not consistent with recent consumption of marijuana.

With respect to drugs other than marijuana, it can be a valid defense that you were on prescription medication at the time of driving so long as the medication was taken in therapeutic dosage. Other substances mixed with the medication or an admonition not to operate a vehicle with that medication may expose you to criminal liability. Abusing your doctor’s instructions for taking a drug is an issue that the jury considers in deciding the case.

Deferred Prosecution

An agreement with the state that your prosecution will be deferred for some set period of time on conditions set forth and agreed upon by the parties, e.g., stay out of trouble for six months. At the end of the deferral period, if all conditions are met, the case is dismissed.


The process of obtaining the evidence in your case for review before you make your final decisions on whether to plea bargain or take the case to trial. You are entitled to obtain and see [i.e., discover] the evidence against you. Additionally, in Indiana, depositions are allowed as part of the discovery process. The prosecutor must also disclose exculpatory information, and it is a constitutional violation if he fails to do so.

Dissipation Of Alcohol

Typically, everyone burns off alcohol absorbed into the body at the rate of .015% per hour. After your body has reached its peak absorption of alcohol, it eliminates the alcohol at about .015% per hour.

If your body is in the dissipation stage, your chemical test score at the time of testing will be lower than your chemical test score at the time of driving. This means that whatever number is reported by the testing device is a number lower than the level of alcohol you had at the time of driving.

This set of facts can be an aggravating circumstance in your case depending on the alcohol level reported. Also, the bail schedule used by the Monroe County Jail for your release when arrested for OWI uses the reported dissipation of alcohol to determine how many hours you must remain in jail before you are bonded out.

That is … If you refuse a breath test, you must spend 24 hours in jail because your alcohol level may be unknown, however, if you take a chemical test and an alcohol level is determined, then that level will determine how long you stay in jail. For example, a .08 % ACE typically requires two-four hours in jail before your release. Higher scores require longer detoxification times.

Driving Record

These are the records kept by the BMV in your state as they relate to your driving history. In Indiana, there is no magic time when a driving conviction drops off your record, for your purposes, most convictions remain on your record for life!

Some of Indiana’s habitual statutes allow for use of prior convictions throughout your lifetime, e.g., habitual vehicular substance offender. [IC 9-30-15.5-1 et seq.] To be a habitual vehicular substance offender you simply need two prior drug or alcohol convictions involving the operation of a vehicle while intoxicated, in excess of the legal limit [.08%] or with a controlled substance in your system, on your record, both of which are at least as serious as a class A misdemeanor, this includes some OWI/DUI convictions, alcohol or drugs. If you have only two prior convictions, then one of the prior convictions must be within a 10-year period of the charge pending against you for which the prosecutor wants to charge you with habitual vehicular substance offender. If you have three or more prior offenses, no time period applies.

If your pending charge is a class A misdemeanor OWI/DUI or greater, or, a drug charge which is a class A misdemeanor or greater, then the prosecutor can charge you with being a habitual vehicular substance offender by alleging that your two or more prior convictions as described above are the predicate offenses to give you the habitual substance status and if proved, the judge must add from one to eight years of prison to any sentence imposed on you. Now that is some serious penalty! There is a one year mandatory minimum sentence for habitual vehicular substance offenders.  

Additionally, Indiana has some mandatory minimum statutes, which call for five days or 10 days in jail as a mandatory minimum for a second or third OWI/DUI even if the charge pending against you is a misdemeanor and you have not been in trouble for a long time!

The record of your prior convictions does not magically clear after seven or 10 years. This is fantasy. A zealous or aggressive prosecutor can dredge up these old convictions to impose very serious penalties against you.

Drug / Alcohol Court / Diversion Programs

In some states and in a very limited number of counties in Indiana such as Vanderburgh County, for example, a diversion program is offered for either first-time OWI cases or chronic alcohol or drug abusers. These programs vary in their guidelines on who is eligible for acceptance.

In Monroe County, Indiana, there is no first-time OWI diversion program. There is a drug/alcohol court if an OWI type offender meets the criteria of the court, typically chronic alcoholism or drug dependence. The thrust of the drug/alcohol courts is a blind plea of guilty to the offense charged so that the entire sentence is hanging over the defendant’s head conditioned upon his compliance with treatment.

In the event a long process of treatment is successfully completed, the pot of gold is dismissal of all charges. In the event the treatment process is failed, then a maximum sentence or other significant jail-type punishment can be brought to bear by the Court without significant due process for the participant.

Some counties offer dismissal as the pot of gold for successful treatment but others are less generous and may only offer elimination of any jail time punishment. Check with your attorney to see what benefits you get from any particular drug/alcohol program completion.


Historically, in Indiana, when our OWI/DUI criminal offense was defined as driving under the influence of alcohol, to be convicted, the individual arrested must have been driving a vehicle on a public road or highway.

In more recent times, our legislature has redefined the drinking and driving criminal offense and labeled it: operating while intoxicated. The definition of operating does not require your vehicle to be moving, nor does it require any public road or highway.

It does require some control over your vehicle and an intent to drive or have driven. In a case where you are not behind the wheel when confronted by police, there must be some circumstantial evidence that you did drive or operate your vehicle recently, typically within three hours although there are some exceptions to this.

A vehicle can be a lawn mower or a golf cart for OWI/DUI purposes. Intoxicated in Indiana means under the influence of alcohol or drugs or any combination of those, so that there is an impaired condition of thought and action and the loss of normal control of one’s faculties.


A generic designation for a number of criminal offenses related to drinking and driving. Historically, driving under the influence charges were among the first drinking and driving charges in every state both before and after the purported scientific innovation of chemical test scores and breath tests.

Historically, driving meant on a roadway in a moving car, and, under the influence meant a gross loss of motor skills. Simple impairment had not entered the lexicon at that time.