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Will OWI impact liability for a Fatal Tractor Trailer Accident Near Fort Wayne Indiana?

If a prior OWI caused death or serious bodily injury, a second OWI carries a penalty of a fine up to $10,000 and prison for one to six years. The same is true if it is the second OWI that caused death or injury.

A truck driver from New York is facing a drug-related charge after a six-vehicle crash on the Indiana Toll Road killed two people and injured five others. The 26-year-old driver was arrested for possession of marijuana after the June 1 crash. Commercial motor vehicles, including tractor trailers, have significant safety impacts on Indiana’s roadways, since they travel more than 9.5 billion miles annually. Driver error or wanton disregard for the safety of other roadway travelers may be proven in court and weigh in favor of accident victims or surviving loved ones who have suffered loss due to a tractor trailer accident. A Fort Wayne accident attorney can help with insurance claims, or wrongful death legal action after an accident causes catastrophic harm and injury.

professional truck drivers

Truck drivers must undertake specialized training because of the difficult maneuverability and specialized mechanisms in big rigs and tankers, and many companies and insurance carriers require a commercial driver license (CDL) for employment and insurance coverage. Professional truck drivers can have their livelihood destroyed based on one unwise decision resulting in a lifetime of negative repercussions affecting their freedom from jail and financial ruin. Drivers who have been arrested on criminal charges after a truck accident should talk to an experienced attorney in Fort Wayne Indiana to determine how fault will be decided if an OWI is proven.

First time offenders

Drivers found guilty of OWI in a Fort Wayne Indiana court for “operating while intoxicated” identifying motorists who illegally drive their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and have been arrested may face the following penalties for a first-time offense:

  • Fees and court costs at a minimum of $300,
  • Maximum ends of $5,000,
  • Maximum prison time of 1 year,
  • Alcohol and drug testing,
  • Two-year license suspension,
  • Required attendance at a substance abuse education course and victim impact panel.

The penalty is a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for six months to two and one-half years if any one of the following applies to the OWI.

  • A non-adult passenger is in the vehicle. That is, someone under age 18.
  • It causes serious bodily injury.
  • The OWI is the second within five years.
  • It causes the death of a law enforcement animal.

If a prior OWI caused death or serious bodily injury, a second OWI carries a penalty of a fine up to $10,000 and prison for one to six years. The same is true if it is the second OWI that caused death or injury.


Graphic depicting African-American man in suit with arms folded, standing near a desk on which sits a gavel. The scales of justice are on the wall behind the desk. Graphic by Mohamed Hassan, via, CC0 public domain.

Indiana is a “fault,” state regarding auto accidents, and requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of property damage and liability auto insurance. Accident victims have the right to pursue a personal injury, or property damage claim against an at-fault driver. This is referred to as filing a “third-party” claim. The State of Indiana follows the modified comparative negligence rule, where an individual recovers damages if they are 50% or less at fault for an accident.

Liability for multi-vehicle truck accidents

A Fort Wayne truck accident lawyer can help identify possible defendants after a multi-vehicle tractor trailer accident if the criminal offense of OWI is not found to be the reason for the crash and other parties may include the truck owner, the trucking company, cargo loaders , or truck manufacturers.

Seek legal counsel

When accidental injury, property damage and/or loss of life occurs because of a big rig crash, an accident victim will need to hire an experienced truck accident attorney, who is familiar with industry standards and federal and state regulatory laws to investigate and provide liability for the accident.


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