Drive sober this Thanksgiving

When your family gathers for Thanksgiving, you probably have some traditions to which you look forward. Maybe you enjoy certain foods, spend time with old friends or participate in a family activity, and those are the things that make the holiday special for you.

If you are like many others in Louisiana, you may have some wine or other alcoholic beverages with dinner or while watching the game on TV. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is one of the most notoriously dangerous holidays to be on the road because so many people choose to drive after consuming alcohol. If you take this chance, you risk injuring yourself and others in an accident as well as the severe penalties of a DWI conviction.

First offense

Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is illegal in all states, and more often, lawmakers are raising the penalties for DWI. In many cases, even a first offense can leave you with steep fines, license suspension and jail time. You may also end up with an ignition interlock system on your vehicle, which adds even more to the total expense of a first offense. If there are no extenuating circumstances, you may receive community service, but not before spending at least 48 hours in jail.

Factors that may increase your penalties include the following:

  • Having a BAC of .20 or higher
  • Having a child in the vehicle with you
  • Causing an accident that results in property damage or injuries to others
  • Having previous DWIs on your record

The penalties for subsequent DWIs increase quickly, and you may find that a repeat offense can seriously change your prospects for the future.

Subsequent offenses

If this is your second offense, your fines and fees may reach several thousand dollars, including payment for ignition interlock, a substance abuse program and a driver improvement class. You will also serve time in jail and do community service, both of which may jeopardize your employment.

For a third offense, in addition to thousands in fines and fees, you face the possibility of up to five years behind bars, unless the court approves you for probation that includes drug diversion. Your sentence may include alcohol treatment, driver improvement classes and other requirements at your own expense. There is also a good chance that authorities will seize your vehicle to sell at auction.

You can see there is much at stake if you get behind the wheel after drinking this Thanksgiving or at any time of the year. You certainly want to make more positive holiday memories than building a defense strategy for a DWI arrest. However, you have the right to seek legal counsel if you find yourself facing these serious charges.

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