Avoid a DWI in Louisiana (5 Things You Need to Know about DWI)

To avoid an DWI in Louisiana, you should know at least these five things.

        Overview

I.   DWI in Louisiana
II.  Penalties
III.The Costs
IV. Sobriety Tests
V.  Avoid Arrest

I. DWI in Louisiana

It’s illegal to drive while intoxicated. This is called DWI in Louisiana. It’s driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers it’s 0.04% or more. And for those under age 21, including adults age 18 through 20, it’s 0.02% or over.

dwi in louisianaThe latter is zero tolerance. However, the BAC can be over zero. Louisiana does this to reduce the chances of convicting innocent young drivers.

The logic is simple. First, breathalyzers are not highly accurate. In fact, they don’t actually measure BAC. They really only estimate it.

Another reason is that many medications contain high levels of alcohol. Also many foods do as well. That includes baked goods such as bread.

And finally, everyone produces alcohol naturally within their bodies. This means everyone always has blood in their alcohol. Includes all drivers under 21.

Alcohol along with and prescription or over the counter drugs can be DWI. That’s if the drug label warns against combining it with alcohol. Also, controlled substances alone can result in a conviction for DWI.

II. Penalties

The exact penalties imposed for DWI in Louisiana vary. Many factors cause these differences. Thy include such things as

  • dwi in louisiana

    Please, no! Not her!

    Driver’s Age.

  • Type of license.
  • Estimated BAC.
  • Any prior DWIs.
  • Consequences of the DWI, if any (property damage, injuries, etc.)
  • Any minors in the vehicle.
  • Skill of driver’s attorney.
  • Characteristics of driver (demeanor in court, race, socio-economic status, etc.)
  • Beliefs and personality of judge hearing the case. That’s just the luck of the draw.

These are the penalties for DWI by drivers 21 or older.

First DWI

• Up to six months imprisonment.
• Fine of up to $1,000. Also court costs.
• Up to one year suspension of driver’s license.
• Proof of increased insurance for three years.
dwi in louisiana $100 fee for reinstatement of driving license.

Second DWI

• 48 hours to six months imprisonment.
• Fine of up to $1,000. Also court costs.
• Up to two years suspension of driver’s license.
• Proof of increased insurance for three years.
• $200 fee for reinstatement of driving license.

Third DWI

dwi in louisiana One year to five years imprisonment.
• Fine of up to $2,000 plus court costs.
• Up to three years suspension of driver’s license. Possible home confinement.
• Proof of increased insurance for three years.
• $300 fee for reinstatement of driving license.
• Possible vehicle confiscation.
• Mandatory four weeks in an inpatient substance abuse program. This followed by a mandatory four weeks in an outpatient substance abuse program.

The penalties for DWI by drivers under 21 are different.

First Conviction

• $100 up to $250 fine.
• Substance abuse evaluation.
• Successful completion of driver education course.

Second Conviction

• $150 up to $500.
• Imprisonment for 10 days to three months.
• Possible substance abuse evaluation.
• Also possible enrollment in driver education course.

A judge may decide to suspend lengthy imprisonment under one of two conditions.

dwi in louisianaI. One is if the offender agrees to spend 48 hours in jail and be placed on probation. The offender must also submit to substance abuse evaluation and complete a driver education program.

II. The other is if the offender is placed on probation and serves 10 eight-hour days of community service. At least half of the service must be litter collection.

Offenders who are ordered to enter a substance abuse program must pay for its cost. Otherwise, the the judge revokes their probation.

Other DWI Conviction Facts

• Any driver whose DWI causes the death of another person faces up to 30 years imprisonment.
• A driving license revocation automatically causes revocation of the offender’s boating license.
• An ignition interlock device may be required for a hardship license or for reinstatement of a license. It prevents a vehicle from starting if there’s alcohol on the driver’s breath. Offenders must pay the costs for installation, maintenance, and monitoring the device.

III. The Costs

Legal Defense

Getting charged with a DWI in Louisiana is very expensive, as it is elsewhere. And this is true even if you’re innocent. Of course, it’s even more expensive if a judge or jury convicts you.

The cost of a legal DWI defense is very hard to estimate. That’s because the complexity of cases varies widely. And more complex cases take more of a lawyer’s time. That means more money.

dwi in louisianaIt’s wise to select an experienced lawyer who specializes in DWI defense. The knowledge and experience of such a lawyer is invaluable. In fact, such a lawyer may take less time.

Its obvious that simply asking lawyers how much they charge per hour isn’t helpful. It’s like asking a car dealer how much it costs to buy a car.

Other Costs

There are a number of other costs. They may include fines, court costs, property damage, medical expenses, possible loss of employment, increased insurance rates, and other expenses. The total can be high. It can easily be more than lawyer fees and expenses. Therefore, the total cost of an DWI can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, there are non-money costs as well. They may include pain and suffering, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, driving license suspension, loss of friendships, and many others.

Knowing the high costs of a DWI is helpful. It’s a great motivation. That can help us try to avoid getting one.

IV. Sobriety Tests

Chemical Tests

dwi in louisianaAll states require drivers to submit to alcohol breath tests (estimators). That, in spite of their scientifically proven unreliability.

However, all drivers have a Constitutional right to decline taking a chemical BAC test. In spite of that, the state punishes those who use their right. Their license is revoked on the spot even if they are completely sober. The revocation is for one year. Also, the Louisiana denies any restricted driving for work, school, or other essential activities.

Field Sobriety Tests

However, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. And that’s good. Simply put, field sobriety tests lack validity. That’s why about one-third of completely sober people with a 0.00% BAC fail them. And they do so under ideal conditions.

dwi in louisianaNaturally, taking a field sobriety test on an uneven highway shoulder after being pulled over by police and being very nervous is far from ideal. So the “real world” failure rate for completely sober people must be much higher.

Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers never to submit to any field sobriety test. On the other hand, police want suspects to take them. They often falsely insist the law requires it. It doesn’t. Or they say that passing it proves you’re innocent. It doesn’t.

An officer who pulls over a driver for suspected drinking and driving is conducting a criminal investigation. The officer may legally lie to you. Remember that if you are a suspect in a crime, the police officer is your adversary.

Discover much more about field sobriety tests. Also, learn What to Do If You Are Pulled Over. Knowledge really is power to protect yourself.

V. Avoid Arrest

Obviously, one way to avoid a DWI is by abstaining from alcohol. Another choice is to use a Designated Driver or use public transportation.

Most drivers enjoy drinking alcohol, at least on occasion. They may lack a Designated Driver or access to public transportation. And they may be unable to afford Uber or Lynks.

So how can drivers drink before driving, yet avoid arrest? The answer is simple and legal, except for drivers under 21. Maintain a low BAC.

These guidelines can help keep a low BAC.

dwi in louisiana

Standard Drinks

  • Remember that standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits have equivalent amounts of pure alcohol.
  • Have no more than one standard drink each hour. Preferably less.
  • Avoid non-standard drinks. This makes it easier to keep track of alcohol intake.
  • Eat and snack while drinking. This is very important!
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
  • Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
  • Never engage in any drinking game.
Arrested for DWI in Louisiana?

This website strongly opposes impaired driving. But it also supports the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants both the innocent and the guilty.

If you’re charged with a DWI in Louisiana, contact a lawyer immediately. The attorney should specialize in drinking and driving cases. Better yet is one whose practice is limited to such cases.

The Louisiana State Bar (lawyer) Association has a free lawyer referral service. Also, Martingale-Hubbell offers a free on-line database with lawyers by specialty and geographic location. In addition, it provides client and peer evaluations.

Don’t rely on this or any other site for legal information.

Resources

Brezina, C. I’ve Gotten a DWI/DUI, Now What? NY: Rosen, 2016.

CDC. Teen Drinking and Driving. Atlanta: 2012. (website)

___. Impaired Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Gillespie, L. Police Encounters. Know Your Rights. Gillespie, 2014.

Hudson, T. The Drinker’s Guide to Driving: The Secrets of DUI, From One of America’s Top DUI Lawyers. Cork: BookBaby, 2013.

Keech, C. & Fairchild, C. Dude, What are My Rights? Kansas City, MO: Keechild, 2014.

Lauterjung, L. DUI law for Drivers. How to Avoid DUI Arrests and How to Handle a DUI Stop. Lauterjung, 2012.

Nevels, T. Avoid DWI and Marijuana Charges. Cork: BookBaby, 2015.

NHTSA. Drunk Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Sagsletter, R. Rights During a Police Stop / DUI in the United States. What Officers Can and Cannot Do. Denver, CO: Outskirts, 2012.