Operating while intoxicated (OWI) is operating any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or any other means of conveyance with any of the following conditions existing: the operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages and the blood alcohol concentration is 0.8 or more; the operator is under the influence of any legally controlled substance; the operator is under the influence of any combination of drugs or alcohol.
What Happens When Someone Is Pulled Over On Suspicion Of OWI In Louisiana?
The typical OWI arrest in Louisiana is going to start with a traffic stop. It might be the failure to signal, an improper lane change, or something of the sort. The officer will approach the vehicle, ask for your license and registration, and perhaps smell the scent of an alcoholic beverage on your breath or body. They may notice slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or any combination of those things. They’ll ask you to step out of the vehicle and participate in standard field sobriety testing.
Standard field sobriety testing encompasses a battery of tests designed to determine whether or not someone is impaired while driving. What the officers are looking for are certain numbers of clues. There is an objective list of clues for each one of the tests. A certain number of clues is required for the police to have probable cause to ask you to submit to a Breathalyzer test. Typically, they will arrest you under suspicion of OWI and bring you to a station. They may perform the standard field sobriety tests again, on camera, in a controlled environment, and then they’ll ask you to blow into the Breathalyzer machine.
What Happens If Someone Refuses A Breath Or Blood Test During An OWI investigation?
Everyone has the right to refuse chemical testing. If you refuse a Breathalyzer test, your license will automatically be suspended for a one-year period. That has nothing to do with the criminal side of the case. It has to do with the Office of Motor Vehicles. The police don’t often ask for blood tests on the first offense. If it’s a subsequent offense, they may ask a judge for a warrant to get a blood sample. If the judge signs the warrant, they’ll bring you to a hospital where a medical professional will draw the blood.
What Factors Can Enhance Or Aggravate An OWI Charge In Louisiana?
If you provide a sample that’s above 0.149 grams of alcohol per 100 cubic centimeters of blood, then the law provides that you must serve at least 48 hours in jail without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension. You’re also looking at increased fines. In addition, your driver’s license will be suspended for a period of two years, rather than one. There is a child endangerment law where if you are convicted of OWI with a minor child under the age of 12 in the vehicle, the minimum mandatory sentence cannot be suspended. This means that on a first offense, you’ll spend at least 10 days in jail.
What Are The Penalties For An OWI conviction Under Louisiana State Law?
On a first offense OWI conviction, the offender shall be fined no less than $300 but not more than $1,000, and shall be imprisoned for no less than 10 days but no more than six months. Imposition of that sentence cannot be suspended unless someone has completed at least 48 hours in jail or, in lieu of that jail time, performed no less than 32 hours of community service, at least half of which shall consist of a court-approved substance abuse program. They have to participate in a court-approved driving program and they have to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
For a second offense, the offender shall be fined no less than $750 but no more than $1,000 and shall be imprisoned for no less than 30 days but no more than six months. At least 48 hours of that sentence shall be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence unless the person serves at least 15 days in jail or performs 240 hours of community service, at least half of which shall be litter abatement or collection. They must participate in the court-approved driving program and the court will order an ignition interlock device be installed in their vehicle.
On a third OWI offense, the offender shall be fined $2,000 and shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not less than one year and not more than five years. At least one year of the sentence shall be served without parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.
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