Dan Coffey Law DUI Attorney

Good to know
      • In Indiana we charge the offense as Operating While Intoxicated (Hence OWI is the abbreviation most often associated with the offense in Indiana)
6532 Cornell Ave
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220
United States
view phone317-722-0073
view fax317-722-0074
Indianapolis DUI Attorney

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In Indiana we charge the offense as Operating While Intoxicated (Hence OWI is the abbreviation most often associated with the offense in Indiana)

DUI/OWI is the GREAT EQUALIZER as far as the type of charge people face. The array of unsuspecting and the most normal citizens of Indiana never believing it could happen to them….find themselves arrested for some variation of OWI. Be it by way of an extra glass of wine at dinner that put them right at the dreaded .08 BAC, or those who thought they would take that one chance and drive home after what they know to be one too many drinks. IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE.

We have represented countless folks throughout the State of Indiana accused of a DUI/DWI/OWI offense. Ranging from Doctors, lawyers, Indianapolis Colts players, to nurses, students, military personnel, CEOs and all in between.

The reasons for you being stopped are as numerous as the number of people on the road. Whether it be an accident, drag-racing after happy hour – or just plain speeding, rolling through a stop sign in Broad Ripple Village, or coming home at the wee hours of the morning from one of the numerous pubs on 96th street in Hamilton County.

Once you are stopped, though it may not be the calmest of setting, and your thinking may not be at the top of your game, there are a number of things that will be happening…and quickly. We encourage you to review of FAQ Section in this website for some of the basics. We strongly encourage you however to contact us as soon after the arrest as possible to minimize any further unnecessary complications.


We have represented the people of Indiana on DUI/OWI/DWI cases for over twenty five years. There is generally much to defend on these cases and due to the short term as well as long term consequences, it will be most helpful to have someone on your side who has done countless trials, jury and otherwise, on these types of cases.

Our site wants to give you an overview of the basics, and the following seeks to provide some of what you should expect. These can be most complicated cases, particularly if you are interested in fighting them. We will be most happy to provide that advocacy role for you.

Are there variables, factors and sources of error on a breath test?
There are considerable influences on a BAC Datamaster type Breathalyzer result. These sources of error have been aptly demonstrated for decades in the literature and Indiana case law. Often, expert testimony on some of these issues can prove invaluable. Some of those sources of error:

Heartburn, Acid Reflux and Alveolar Air
‘Mouth Alcohol’ and waiting periods.
Testing during the ‘absorptive period’
Invalid assumptions on the Blood/Breath Partition Ratio
Body Temperature: Illness, higher temperature.
Breath from the lungs versus from lower in the stomach
Demands from officer to ‘breath harder, harder’.
Effect of burping during and/or prior to testing.
Incomplete purging of the machine and the ‘air blank’ test
The diabetic , or borderline diabetic, driver.
Hematocrit: Solid particles to plasma in one’s blood. Breathalyzer results are a higher BAC with persons who have blood with a higher hematocrit percentage. Simple blood tests establish a person’s hematocrit.
Individual Stress and Breathing: Holding one’s breath, or the reverse, hyperventilating, can cause significant fluctuation in the breath test, affecting blood flow and blood pressure.


While there are a number of tests that arresting officers, be they from Indianapolis, Beech Grove or Carmel, can and do ask drivers to perform, it is generally subject to the Officer’s time, patience, creativity and training. They are not designed to help a ‘suspect’ prove his sobriety. They are designed to subtract points from a hypotheitcal perfect performance of each test.

Many Indianapolis OWI attorneys consider them historically unreliable.

The Purpose: To compare your performance on ‘standardized’ testing procedures, with a purported approximate 70% reliability factor to establish intoxication. Unlike the mandatory penalties for Refusing a Breath/Blood test, there is no such license suspension punishment for declining to perform FST’s in Indiana. If it is going to help your situation, you would be foolish to not oblige his invitation to take them. It is becoming more prevalent that these FST’s are on video camera from the officers’ police vehicle and can be very useful at a trial in your case.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Manual dictates how these tests are to be administered.

Any variation by the arresting Officer causes their admissibility to be in question.


In DUI / DWI investigation your Indianapolis DUI Defense Attorney should always be prepared to challenge these.

Reciting Random Sections of the Alphabet…… Backwards: Challenging to perform on one’s best alcohol-free days.
Balance Test: Being asked to pick a coin off of the street, to assess degree of difficulty in maintaining balance.
Pupil Contraction to Penlight: Fraught with subjectivity. Designed to be nearly impossible to dispute long after the night in question.
Finger-to-Nose Test. With points subtracted for numerous imperfections in performance, significant as well as minor.


In Marion, Hamilton, Johnson, Hendricks & Hancock Counties

It is imperative that your Indianapolis DUI Defense Attorney be as familiar with these tests as the Officer conducting them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through a series of research determined there is a battery of three (3) field sobriety tests, administered and evaluated in a standardized manner to obtain validated indicators of impairment to establish probable cause for arrest. These have come to be known as the Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s), and are the most frequently used by virtually all Indianapolis DUI law enforcement today. Though, standardized they are, they have been successfully challenged in Court since their inception. There is a clear subjective element to all of this testing, when an officer meets for the first time the ‘suspect’. Whether that suspect be from Indianapolis, Avon or Anderson, Greenwood or Greensburg, Homecroft or Huntington.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: An involuntary jerking of the eye which occurs naturally as one’s eyes gaze to the side. Often performed while a flashlight is directly in your face. Nystagmus may be exaggerated and may occur at lesser angles when alcohol consumtion is involved. Examiner is looking for three indicators of impairment in each eye.

Walk and Turn: Usually 9-10 steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line, turn on one foot and return in the same manner the opposite direction. Theory is that impaired persons have hard time following oral instructions while performing simple physical exercises. Examiner looks for eight (8) indicators of impairment. NTSA research indicates that 68% of persons who exhibit two or more indicators in this test will have a BAC of .10% or greater.

One Leg Stand: Suspect is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands (one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, etc.) until told to put one’s foot down. The officer times the subject for 30 seconds. (That we submit, is a long time, though standard.) He is looking for four distinct indicators of impairment. NTSA research, again 68% of the time, says 2 of the 4 indicators, the person will have a BAC over .10%.

The officer has (usually) never met you, and he has no idea what difficulties you would have performing these tests on alcohol or void of alcohol. The officer’s interpretations are obviously subjective, and usually there are no other witnesses while the officer is conducting these. They are generally performed in the headlights of the police vehicle, frequently with the red or blue lights blazing, on the side of the road, often rather late at night, in a setting that any normal human would find stressful to say the least. More and more jurisdictions, in Carmel more so than Indianapolis, are providing cameras for the police vehicle to record much, if not all, of this field testing. These videos are subject to your Indianapolis OWI defense lawyer requesting and obtaining them through the ‘discovery’ process. These are often most helpful in a thorough, proper defense.