All 50 states have now instated a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit of .08 in regards to DWI charges, as well as a .04 limit for commercial drivers. Louisiana sets the BAC limit at .02 for underage drivers, with a level of .15 for aggravated charges, which may be accompanied by heavier penalties. Louisiana DWI laws also apply to drivers found to be under the influence of intoxicants other than alcohol, including hallucinogens or prescription drugs, with the charges and penalties the same as they are for alcohol.
Third and fourth DWI convictions are considered felony offenses under Louisiana state law and can result in harsher penalties and mandatory jail time. A third conviction carries a mandatory jail sentence of 45 days, which can be extended up to five years, and a fourth conviction carries mandatory jail time of 75 days, extendable up to 30 years at the discretion of the court. Both convictions may involve a two-year license suspension. For fourth offenses, the offender’s vehicle may be confiscated by the courts. Other penalties include fines of $2,000 for a third conviction and $5,000 for a fourth conviction, community service and court-ordered inpatient substance abuse treatment for six weeks. Both convictions may include home incarceration, rather than jail time, at the discretion of the court.
Louisiana is one of many states that has an implied consent law, which means that by operating a vehicle you have already given your consent to submit to a blood, breath or urine analysis if an officer of the law has reason to suspect that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The method of testing is chosen by the officer, and the chemical analysis results are admissible as evidence in court. Refusing to comply with these tests will result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license, in addition to penalties for any DWI conviction. A first time refusal of chemical analysis results in a license suspension of 180 days. The penalty is raised to 545 days for the second offense.
In some cases, it is possible for a defendant to receive a lesser conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol, also known as a “wet reckless,” rather than being convicted on drunk driving charges. A lawyer may be able to create a plea bargain to reduce the charges to this lesser conviction, with milder resulting penalties.
Louisiana DWI Penalties
A driver is charged with a DWI in Lousiana when his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds .08 percent grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood or if the driver is under the influence of any amount of a Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V controlled substance. The BAC limit drops to .04 percent for drivers of a commercial vehicle and .02 percent for drivers under the age of 21.
DWI is treated as a misdemeanor in Louisiana until the third offense, at which point it becomes a felony. The “look back” period for previous charges is 10 years. Penalties include mandatory jail time for all charges as well as fines, license suspension, and possible mandatory treatment.
Penalties for a first offense under Louisiana DWI laws include a license suspension of up to 90 days or a six-month suspension for underage offenders. The penalties can also include jail time of up to six months and fines of up to $1,000 in addition to court costs. Louisiana is also one of the many states that may require an ignition interlock device to be installed in the offender’s vehicle, even for first offenders. This requires drivers to pass a breathalyzer test prior to starting the vehicle engine.
Second-time offenders are subject to a mandatory 48 hours in jail or 48 hours of community service in addition to a hard 45-day suspension of driving privileges. Jail time may be increased to up to six months, and the license suspension can be extended to a full year. Second offenders may also be subject to fines up to $1,000.
The lookback period in which judges can consider prior DWI offenses when issuing a sentence is 10 years.
Louisiana DWI Penalties for a First Offense
A first conviction results in a jail sentence of two days to six months. There is also a fine of $300 to $1,000 and a license suspension of 90 days. If the driver is under the age of 21, the license suspension increases to six months. An ignition interlock device is not installed with a first offense, but the driver may be sentenced to complete a mandatory substance abuse training course. Penalties may be increased at the discretion of a judge if the driver’s BAC is greater than .15 percent.
Louisiana DWI Penalties for a Second Offense
The second offense must have been within 10 years of the first in order for penalties to be increased. If this is the case, the jail sentence ranges from 30 days to six months, and the potential fine ranges from $300 to $1,000. The driver’s license will be suspended for one year, but the driver can petition the court for a restricted license during this time that mandates the use of an ignition interlock device on all vehicles. Driving school is mandatory. A defendant may also be sentenced to up to 240 hours of community service and a mandatory treatment program.
Louisiana DWI Penalties for a Third Offense
A DWI charge becomes a felony with two prior convictions within a period of 10 years. The jail sentence ranges from one to five years, though the court has the ability to suspend all but six months. A defendant may also be able to spend a portion of the sentence in home confinement. There is a fine of up to $2,000 and the driver’s license may be suspended for up to two years. The driver may also be sentenced to mandatory treatment and community service.
Louisiana DWI Penalties for a Fourth Offense
Penalties become very harsh upon a fourth conviction within a period of 10 years. The potential jail sentence ranges from 75 days up to 30 years. Some portion of a sentence may be served under home confinement. The fine is $5,000 and the driver’s license is suspended for two years. At this level, the state will also seize and sell the vehicle used in the DWI at auction. At least 40 days of community service will be ordered as well as six weeks of inpatient alcohol or substance abuse treatment.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Louisiana?
Louisiana’s legal alcohol limit is .08 percent, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that applies throughout the United States. A lower limit of .04 percent applies to commercial drivers, and people not of legal drinking age are subject to a strict BAC level of .02 percent.
Alcohol-related driving offenses typically result in driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. A specific offense for those under 21 – underage driving under the influence (UDUI) – is also designated in state law.
The charge most commonly faced by Louisianans is a standard DWI. Potential penalties for this offense include:
- A first conviction typically results in between ten days and six months in jail, a fine of $300 to $1,000 and a license suspension of one year.
- A second conviction may result in a jail sentence of between 30 days and six months, a fine of $750 to $1,000 and a driver’s license suspension of two years.
- A third conviction can require between one and five years in jail, a fine of $2,000 and loss of driving privileges for three years.
If there are aggravated circumstances related to a case, a court may settle on punishments that are even more severe.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Louisiana
People convicted of alcohol-related offenses in Louisiana typically must install an ignition interlock device (IID) on a vehicle in order to have driving privileges reinstated.
An ignition interlock device:
- Measures a person’s BAC in a breath test, disallowing a vehicle from starting in the event of a failed test
- Can take BAC readings that ultimately lead to additional penalties for an individual
- Has costs that must be covered by individuals convicted on DUI charges
Getting an IID installed can allow people to avoid a long-term license suspension. It’s critical, though, to understand all of the conditions that apply to these devices.