DWI

August 24th, 2021

Blue light flashing in my rearview
The sheriff said, boy I should have know it was you…
I am not necessarily a music fan however when I hear this Daryl Singletary song I laugh. It’s just seems the start of most great DWI stories. Too much fun.

The reality, however, is much more stark. If you are arrested for a DWI you legal rights are compromised. There are steps you must take to protect your rights. Before you can even get to that question, we must answer what is a DWI in Louisiana.

DWI in Louisiana:

It is a common assumption that, when arrested for driving while intoxicated in Louisiana, it results from you consuming alcohol. The reality is the DWI statute casts a much wider net.

What justifies an arrest for DWI:

In order for a conviction to stick after an arrest for DWI the State must prove you were operating any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel or other means of conveyance when any of these five conditions exists:

  1. The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages;
  2. The operator’s BAC is 0.08 or more.
  3. The operator is under the influence of a controlled substance that is listed in schedule I, schedule II, schedule III, schedule IV or schedule V of the Louisiana state controlled dangerous substance laws.
  4. The operator is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.
  5. The operator is under the influence of one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.

Also keep in mind that there is no requirement that you have a valid drivers license to be convicted of DWI in Louisiana.

What are the Penalties?

Louisiana has a wide range of penalties, depending on the number of infractions you have received for driving while intoxicated as well as your blood alcohol content, which is determined at the time of your arrest. The blood alcohol content is measured from submitting to the intoxilyzer or, if an accident was involved, from a blood draw. The more prior offenses and the higher your BAC, the more stiff the penalties.

DWI First Offense

A first offense DWI in Louisiana is a misdemeanor. A sentencing range is a minimum of a $300 fine to a maximum of a $1,000 fine, ten days to six months in the parish jail, and up to two years of supervised probation. The jail time can be suspended however you must perform a minimum of 32 hours of community service, participate in a court approved substance abuse program and a drivers improvement program.
There are enhanced penalties if your blood alcohol level is between a 0.15 and 0.19. If your BAC is in this range you will serve an additional 48 hours of jail time.
If your BAC is .20 or above, you will receive the mandatory sentence of at least 48 hours in jail, and a minimum fine of $750, and will be required to maintain an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for 12 months of probation. This ignition interlock device requires you to blow into a machine prior to your vehicle being operational.

DWI Second Offense

A second DWI is also a misdemeanor however the penalties are a touch more stiff of those of a DWI first offense. The sentencing range is a minimum of fifteen days in the parish jail and a maximum of six months, all but 48 hours must be served without probation. There is also a minimum fine of $750, up to $1,000.
You will have to complete a minimum of 240 hours community service, participate in a substance abuse drivers improvement program, and the court can order the ignition interlock device as part of the sentence.

Like a DWI first offense, your penalties also increase if your BAC is above a .15. If your BAC is above a .15, you must serve 96 hours in jail. If your BAC is a .20 or above, you must serve 96 hours in jail and pay a $1,000 fine. Additionally, the department of motor vehicles can suspend your license for up to four years.

DWI, Third Offense

A DWI third offense if a felony. As a result, the consequences are more severe. If you are convicted of a DWI third offense your sentencing range is a minimum of one year at hard labor with a maximum of five years hard labor, as well as additional probation, community service, and a drivers improvement program. In addition to the above requirements, if you are convicted of a DWI as a felony, you will have to participate in a substance abuse evaluation and subsequent treatment and you will be required to maintain an ignition interlock device on any vehicles you operate. Additionally, the state of Louisiana can petition the court to forfeit your vehicle.

DWI, Fourth and subsequent offenses, penalties:

Under Louisiana law, the maximum DWI is a DWI fourth offense. Any DWI over a fourth receives the same penalties as a DWI fourth offense. If you are convicted of a DWI fourth offense you can be sentenced to a minimum 10 years hard labor, up to 30 years hard labor, pay a fine of $5,000, and perform 320 hours of community service, conduct a substance abuse evaluations and treatment, and the state of Louisiana can petition the court to forfeit the vehicle you were operating at the time of your DWI.

If you are someone you love has a run in with the law, including getting caught driving while intoxicated, do not hesitate to contact the law office of Larrion L. Hillman at 318-549-9180.

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