Drunk driving fines increase under new law

Paying the steep fines associated with certain criminal charges can be cost prohibitive for some Lake Charles residents. Recently enacted state laws could make doing so even harder. Fines for drunk driving convictions were recently raised, adding on a bigger burden for those already in the middle of a difficult situation. 

Driving in flooded areas, using off-road vehicles while on public roads and penalties for driving under the influence are just some of the areas addressed by the new traffic laws. Now, if a person is convicted on a DWI, he or she will have to fork over an extra $50 if a Breathalyzer was used during the arrest. This raises the previous fine of $75 up to $125. 

Another law deals with probation for DWI offenders who are on their third or fourth offense. Judges can now extend probation for these individuals, setting it for as long as eight years if they so choose. This change also makes it easier for judges to order substance abuse treatment in the wake of a conviction. 

Even minor increases in fines can be overwhelming for Lake Charles defendants who are living on limited incomes or below the poverty level. As such, minimizing the impact of drunk driving charges is essential, especially for those who rely on their vehicles for work or school. Defendants can take several approaches to accomplish this, such as requesting an administrative hearing to retain their driving rights, negotiating a plea deal for lesser charges or fighting the allegations until the end of trial court proceedings. 

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