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Indiana Driving and Traffic Laws

Whether you're an experienced driver going to Indiana for the first time, just planning to travel through, or looking to refresh your knowledge of legal driving in the state, knowing the rules of the road is important. Not only will you save yourself money by avoiding tickets and other citations, but you will also save on Indiana automobile insurance as your rates for this go up when you receive traffic tickets.

Luckily, it's easy to drive safely in IN. The laws, once you know them, are simple and straightforward. You need only follow them carefully and you will avoid the stress and hassle of getting the ticket as well as later consequences, such as the possibility of a suspended license and raised car insurance rates.

Getting a Ticket in Indiana

Indiana uses a point system to ascertain how safe of a driver you are. Most moving violations and traffic tickets have been assigned a point value based on how serious the offense is. When you receive a certain number of points or a certain number of overall violations in a certain period of time, you face the possible suspension of your driver's license.

If you receive more than one ticket during any given year, you will be required to participate in the state's Driver Safety Program. Usually, this entails taking some classes on safe driving and demonstrating that you learned what was taught by getting a passing grade on an exam given at the end of the class.

If you accumulate more than 18 points over any 24 month period, you face the possible suspension of your driving license. You will be required to attend a hearing where the state will determine whether they will suspend the license for a certain period of time or whether they will choose, instead, to have you complete the Driver Safety Program. In these cases, your license will usually be suspended if you do not complete the program within the time frame offered by the state.

If you are concerned about the number of points on your license or want to be proactive about learning to drive safely, you can enroll in the state's Defensive Driving Course or the Driver Safety Program. This gives you "credit" for four points for three years, which means you can either accumulate this many points and not have them count, or they will be subtracted from the points you've already accumulated.

It's important to familiarize yourself with offenses that have point values and the point values of individual offenses. That way, if you do get a ticket you will know exactly what sort of penalty you are facing. The state offers a full list of these point values on the Bureau of Motor Vehicles' website. In general, more minor offenses, like not using the correct signal lights or not observing traffic signals are worth two points, while more major offenses like reckless driving or speeding between 16 and 25 miles per hour over the speed limit are worth 4 points. Speeding above 25 miles per hour is worth even more points.

Driving Under the Influence in Indiana

Like most states, Indiana has strict laws about driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other substances. However, IN is stricter than some places because, under their Operating While Impaired laws, you can be prosecuted not only if your blood alcohol content is over the legal limit but also if the officer believes a substance is impairing your driving in any way. Thus, you can be prosecuted for this offense even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit.

When you are pulled over for violating the Operating While Impaired (OWI) laws, the officer will ask you to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test. As a driver in the state, you do not have the right to choose one of these types of test, or even request it. Neither do you have the right to consult with a lawyer before taking the test. When you get your driving license in IN, you agree to take any of these tests that an officer asks you to take, when he asks you to take it. If you refuse any of these chemical tests, you will automatically face a 1-year administrative license suspension.

If, when you take the test, your blood alcohol content is over 0.08% (for non-commercial drivers over 21), 0.04% (for commercial drivers over age 21), or 0.02% (for all drivers under age 21), you will be arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI). At that time, the arresting officer will confiscate your driving license and should give you a receipt for it. Note that your license may not be suspended at this time, and that you might be able to apply for another one to use until you know whether or not yours is going to be suspended. On the other hand, the state has a mandatory 180 day administrative license suspension for anyone who fails a chemical test, so you may not be able to get it back.

The blood alcohol content for those under 21 is lower because drinking in general is against the law for people under 21. The 0.02% blood alcohol content is known as a zero tolerance law, because most people cannot have even one drink and remain under this limit. Thus, though it's never a good idea to drink and drive, it's an even worse idea for those under 21 who live in IN.

The penalties for breaking any of the OWI laws in Indiana are strict. Drivers who had a blood alcohol content of more than 0.15% will face even stricter laws. Generally, penalties include probation, license suspension, and payment of court costs and any restitution. In addition, even first offenders often face jail time, especially if they had a blood alcohol content of 0.15% or greater. The more times you are caught driving while impaired, the stricter the penalties become. They can include more jail time, higher costs, required time working on a rail crew, mandatory installation of a breathalyzer device in your vehicle, and more.

Seatbelt Laws in Indiana

Some of the most important traffic laws in IN have to do with wearing a seatbelt. Children under age 8 need to be in an approved child safety seat, seated in the rear of the vehicle. Kids between 8 and 15 years of age need to be wearing a seatbelt, whether they are in the back of the car or the front. In addition, all passengers, regardless of age, who ride in the front of any vehicle need to be belted in. The penalty for breaking any of the above laws is a fine of at least $25 dollars, though you will pay more if you have similar prior offenses.

At this point, you should be familiar enough with some of the basic laws surrounding driving and traffic in Indiana to know whether or not you feel comfortable driving in the state. If you have more questions, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has more information pertaining to specific statutes and should be able to answer your questions. Knowing the law is important, because when you know the law you can ensure that you're following it. Thus, it's important to ask any questions you have and receive clarification before you drive in the state.


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