What are the consequences of a DWI conviction in Louisiana?

Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in the state of Louisiana. If you find yourself facing a DWI charge, the steps you take following your arrest matter. If convicted, you'll end up getting more than a slap on the wrist. Having a DWI on your record can affect your life forever.

It does not matter if you face accusations of driving while drunk or being under the influence of some other impairing substance. It does not matter if you are behind the wheel of a car or are operating a watercraft. If the police believe you are operating your vehicle while impaired, arrest is likely.

State laws

State laws prohibit any person who is of legal age to drink to operate a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or higher. The BAC level decreases for those who are commercial drivers. There is a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinkers -- anyone under the age of 21. Drivers may not operate any type of motor vehicle if under the influence of legal or illegal drugs that cause impairment.

If convicted…

As previously stated, if convicted, the consequences can be significant, even for first-time offenders. Current penalties associated with DWI convictions include:

  • First offense: Fine up to $1000, jail time of 10 days up to six months, temporary license suspension
  • Second offense: Fine up to $1000, jail time of 30 days to six months, temporary license suspension
  • Third offense: Fine of $2000, imprisonment between one and five years, temporary or permanent license suspension

The suspension of sentences is possible in most cases if the accused spends a short period of time in jail, completes a substance abuse program and participates in community service. Some individuals may have to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. After so many offenses, the state may seize one's vehicle and permanently revoke one's license.

Defend yourself

If charged with DWI, you have the right to defend yourself, and you are better off doing that than just accepting whatever punishment the state is ready to hand down. Believe it or not, there are defense strategies that may work in your favor. A DWI charge does not mean a conviction is a done deal. Prosecuting attorneys still have the burden of proving you were actually impaired, which they are not always able to do successfully.

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