Operating a Motor Vehicle under the Influence (OWI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in Louisiana. Also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), a conviction may result in a jail or prison sentence, fines, and loss of your driver’s license. Whether it is your first, second, or third or more DUI offense, the penalties are severe.
If you or someone you care for has been arrested for OWI/DUI/DWI in the state of Louisiana, you need an experienced OWI defense attorney to defend your case and protect your rights. Remember, just because you are charged with a crime, does not mean that you are guilty.
Louisiana OWI/DWI/DUI Laws
Louisiana’s OWI laws are written in Louisiana Revised Statute 14:98. Driving while intoxicated is defined as operating any
while under the influence of
- alcoholic beverages,
- the operator’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% percent or more,
- the operator is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance,
- the operator is under the influence of any combination of the above.
If the operator of the motor vehicle has a BAC of 0.15% or higher, or 0.20% or higher, the penalties for driving while under the influence will be enhanced.
Administrative License Suspension
If you are arrested for OWI, the arresting officer will take your driver’s license and issue you a 30-day driving permit. The driver can schedule a hearing within 30 days of the notice to appeal the administrative suspension. If the hearing goes against the driver, his or her license will be revoked for either one year or 90 days, depending on that driver’s driving history.
You should consult with an experienced Lafayette OWI attorney before attending the hearing. The law can be complex, and if you try to represent yourself you will be expected to know and follow the law. Do not face it alone, and possibly lose your rights.
First Offense OWI/DUI/DWI
A first-time charge for OWI in Louisiana is a misdemeanor. The following penalties may apply.
- Up to six months in jail, or a fine of $300 to $1,000, or both.
- 48 hours in jail.
- Up to two years of probation supervision.
- Approximately 30 hours of education in driver improvement, substance abuse, and a MADD victims impact program.
- At least 32 hours of community service.
If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, additional harsher penalties may apply, even if it is your first offense.
Second Offense OWI/DUI/DWI
A second-time charge of OWI is still considered a misdemeanor but carries harsher penalties. These include
- a minimum fine of $750 to $1,000;
- 48 hours of a jail sentence must be served, no suspension of the sentence is allowed;
- up to 30 days of community service;
- the same education requirements of a first time OWI; and
- the possibility of imposition of an ignition interlock device.
If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, additional harsher penalties will apply. An experienced OWI attorney can help you to understand the increased penalties which apply to your unique case.
Third Offense OWI/DUI/DWI
If you are convicted of a third OWI charge, it is now a felony and the penalties become more severe. Now you face the stigma of the “felon” label. Penalties include:
- a fine of $2,000,
- one to five years in prison,
- 30 days of community service,
- mandatory addiction disorder assessment and evaluation,
- the possibility of home incarceration and probation,
- possible seizure of the vehicle, and
- required ignition interlock device on all vehicles driven by the offender.
Fourth Or Subsequent OWI/DUI/DWI
A fourth or more charge of DWI is a felony, and is subject to the following penalties:
- A fine of $5,000.
- A minimum of 10 years in prison up to a maximum of 30 years in prison.
- 40 days of community service.
- Two years of the sentence must be served without any suspension or parole.
- Home incarceration for one year.
- Electronic monitoring.
- Seizure of the offender’s vehicle.
- Required treatment for addiction disorder.
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