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DUI & DWI in Louisiana

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In 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,839 people died in DWI-related accidents.

That's Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). It's a serious, and often fatal, crime.

Blood Alcohol Concentration

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the measure of the concentration of alcohol in your blood conveyed as weight per unit of volume. However, BAC doesn't necessarily have to be checked with a blood sample. Breath checks are usually just as effective.

In Louisiana, drivers under 21 years old found to have a BAC of at least 0.02% will be charged with DWI. Drivers 21 years old and over found to have a BAC of at least 0.08% will be charged with DWI.

For more information about BAC levels, check out this Alcohol Impairment Chart .

DWI Penalties

Refusing a Chemical Test

In Louisiana refusing a chemical test carries it's own unique penalties. When you accept a driver's license issued by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections you agree to submit to a chemical test when asked to do so by law enforcement; this is called Implied Consent. If you refuse a chemical test you will face the following driver's license suspension:

  • First offense: 365 days.
  • Second and subsequent offenses: 730 days.

After you serve your suspension you will be required to carry a SR-22 for 3 years.

DWI Penalties

If the NHTSA fatality statistics aren't enough to grab your attention, remember that any drunk driver who causes an accident which kills another person faces up to 30 years in prison.

Not only is it a serious and potentially fatal crime, but DWI is also a costly crime.

In addition to court costs and attorney fees, you'll be losing money due to possible imprisonment. You'll also risk losing your driving privileges, making it hard to get to work. This suspension of your license is a civil action taken by The Department of Public Safety and Corrections. It is known as an Administrative penalty and is in addition to any criminal penalties you make have to deal with for drinking and driving.

The Louisiana Class D & E Drivers Guide, "Driving Offenses," thoroughly covers the severe penalties of DWI. We've provided an outline of each DWI conviction and its maximum penalties below.

DWI First Offense

Administrative Penalties

  • Driving privileges suspended for up to 1 year.
  • Driver's license reinstatement fee: $100
  • Proof of financial responsibility for 3 years after date of conviction

Criminal Penalties

  • Up to 6 months in jail.
  • Fined up to $1,000, in addition to court costs.

DWI Second Offense

Administrative Penalties

  • Driving privileges suspended for up to 2 years.
  • Driver's license reinstatement fee: $200
  • Proof of financial responsibility for 3 years after date of conviction

Criminal Penalties

  • Mandatory 48 hours in jail.
  • Up to 6 months of additional jail time.
  • Fined up to $1,000, in addition to court costs.

DWI Third Offense

Administrative Penalties

  • Driving privileges suspended for up to 3 years.
  • Driver's license reinstatement fee: $300
  • Proof of financial responsibility for 3 years after date of conviction

Criminal Penalties

  • Minimum 1 year in jail.
  • Up to 5 years in prison.
  • Possible home confinement.
  • Fined up to $2,000, in addition to court costs.
  • Possible loss of vehicle.
  • 4 weeks in an inpatient substance abuse program, plus 4 weeks in an outpatient substance abuse program

Your judge may even require you to enroll in a driver improvement program or work on community service projects. You must pay for all costs associated with these requirements. Additional offenses will carry even stiffer penalties with possible even longer jail time, permanent revocation of your drivers license and enormous fines.

Ignition Interlock Device

Many convictions for a DWI and/or refusing a chemical test can result in being required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on your vehicle. This can be a condition of your license being reinstated as well as a requirement for a Hardship license.

An IID is a monitoring unit that will require you to measure your BAC, by blowing in a small tube, before you can start your vehicle. Any measurable alcohol will prevent your vehicle from starting as the device is connected to the ignition.

If you are required to have an IID installed you may only use approved vendors and you will be responsible for the installation, maintenance and monitoring fees.

Reinstating Your License or Applying for a Hardship License

When it is time for you to reinstate your license of if you want to apply for a Hardship License, you may begin the process by calling (225) 925-6146 or visiting your local Motor Vehicle Reinstatement Office.

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