Bill seeks to increase consequences for drunk driving charges

Drivers arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated already face significant criminal consequences. Even those who are never convicted can end up losing their licenses and face other consequences in their personal lives. Despite the already steep outcomes that most people accused of drunk driving deal with, Louisiana lawmakers are trying to make things even more difficult.

Current criminal consequences for drunk driving include thousands of dollars in fines, driving privileges and even jail time. Some lawmakers do not believe that these are enough for those accused of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. Pointing to an April 2018 incident in which a Lake Charles man was arrested on his alleged sixth DWI offense and a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that cites a higher than average drunk driver fatality rate, some think change is necessary.

House Bill 580 seeks to implement those changes. If passed into law, the bill would tighten up laws regarding the use of ignition interlock devices, or IIDs. Those convicted of drunk driving have already had to use IIDs in order to start their vehicles since 2007, but some lawmakers say there are still loopholes. For example, if a driver has his or her license suspended, then an IID will not be installed in their vehicle. Lawmakers believe that these individuals might drive anyways on their suspended licenses while bypassing the IID requirement.

The bill still needs to go through a full hearing by the Louisiana House, and even then cannot become law unless signed by the governor. However, it is usually a good idea for Louisiana residents and defendants accused of drunk driving to be aware of potentially changing laws. Since criminal law is not static and can change over time, individuals who are facing DWI charges may find it helpful to speak with an experienced attorney about their options.

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