Louisiana Alcohol Laws: Big Easy to Bayou

Louisiana alcohol laws could effect you. New Orleans may give a false impression of what is legal and what is not in the state. Laws vary across the country. And from place to place within a state. Making a mistake could have very bad consequences.

I. Minimum Age Laws

I.   Minimum Age Laws
II.  Alcohol Violations
III. Resources
IV.  Seek Good Advice

Young people in Louisiana often seek part-time jobs. Often in hospitality. They’re unsure of the age needed for getting hired. What age is needed for serving alcohol in a restaurant? To be a bartender? To be a clerk in a store selling alcohol to drink off-site?

Louisiana alcohol laws let adults sell or serve alcohol in venues for drinking on-site or to be bartenders. Adults are those age 18 or older. There are no state age laws for working in stores that sell alcohol to drink off-site. But a supervisor must be present.

louisiana alcohol lawsThose of any age under 21 may drink alcohol in private residences. A parent, guardian or spouse must be present. Many parents do this as part of their culture. Others do it to demystify alcohol and promote moderation. They think it’s better to learn to drink in the parents’ house than in a fraternity house.

It is illegal to buy alcohol under 21. Doing so with a false ID is a criminal offense. It may lead to driver’s license suspension.

It is also illegal for those under 21 to drive with a BAC over 0.02.

II. Alcohol Violations

Selling Alcohol

Retailers with a license to sell for consumption elsewhere may do so 24/7. These retailers, including grocery stores, may sell beer, wine, and spirits.

Local option by parishes (counties) and municipalities provides wide latitude in alcohol ordinances. For example, many places require bars to close at 2:00 a.m.

In general, southern Louisiana has more liberal alcohol ordinances than elsewhere in the state. For example, most parishes that restrict alcohol sales on Sundays are in the southern part of the state. See state map.

It’s illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under 21. The penalty for doing so, even accidentally, is significant. The fine is between $500 and $1,000 and/or imprisonment for 30 days to six months.

Buying Alcohol

It’s illegal for anyone under 21 to buy any alcoholic beverage. In addition it’s illegal for such people to publicly possess alcohol.

However, public possession or drinking alcohol is legal in any of these situations.

  • With a parent, guardian, or spouse 21 or older.
  • For religious purposes.
  • In any private residence.
  • While employed by a licensed business.

The purchase or unlawful consumption of alcohol by those under 21 carries penalties. The fine is up to $100 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. In addition, the driving license may be suspended for 180 days.

louisiana alcohol lawsA restricted license may be issued if the offense is a first one. And if the judge is convinced that a hardship would result from inability to drive to school or work. The judge also decides what restrictions are put on the restricted license.

It’s illegal to buy alcohol for anyone under age 21. The exception is that a spouse, parent, or guardian may do. The fine for illegal purchase is a fine up to $500 and imprisonment for up to 30 days. In addition, the driving license may be suspended for 180 days.

A restricted license may be available to first-time offenders. But the judge must be convinced that, without the license, the family will not have the necessities of life.

Adults 18 or older may enter most bars. Of course,  they may not legally buy alcohol.

Driving and Alcohol

louisiana alcohol lawsUnder Louisiana alcohol laws it’s illegal to drive while intoxicated (DWI). That is, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. For commercial drivers it’s 0.04. And for those under age 21, it’s 0.02.

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.

These are the penalties for DWI by drivers 21 or older under Louisiana alcohol laws. The exact penalties depend on the circumstances and the judge.

First DWI
  • louisiana alcohol lawsUp to six months imprisonment.
  • Fine of up to $1,000 plus court costs.
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to one year.
  • Proof of increased insurance for three years.
  • Driving license reinstatement fee of $100.
Second DWI
  • Mandatory 48 hours in jail.
  • Up to six months of additional imprisonment.
  • Fine of up to $1,000 plus court costs.
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to two years.
  • Proof of increased insurance for three years.
  • Driving license reinstatement fee of $200.
Third DWI
  • At least one year in jail.
  • Up to five years in prison.
  • louisiana alcohol lawsPossible home confinement.
  • Fine of up to $2,000 plus court costs.
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to three years.
  • Possible vehicle confiscation.
  • Proof of increased insurance for three years.
  • Driving license reinstatement fee of $300.
  • Mandatory four weeks in an inpatient substance abuse program. This followed by a mandatory four weeks in an outpatient substance abuse program.

Under Louisiana alcohol laws, the penalties for DWI by drivers under 21 are different.

First Conviction
  • A fine of between $100 and $250.
  • Mandated substance abuse evaluation.
  • Required enrollment in driver improvement educational course.
Second Conviction
  • louisiana alcohol lawsA fine of between $150 and $500.
  • Possible substance abuse evaluation.
  • Imprisonment for 10 days to three months.
  • Possible enrollment in driver improvement educational course.

The judge may decide to suspend imprisonment under one of two conditions. One is if the offender spends 48 hours in jail and. placed on probation. The offender must also undergo substance abuse evaluation and participate in a driver improvement program.

louisiana alcohol lawsThe 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
  • DWI offenders must pay all costs associated with their penalties.
  • Additional DWI convictions result in stiffer penalties. They may include longer imprisonment, higher fines, and permanent license revocation.
  • The judge may also mandate enrollment in a driver improvement program. And/or community service.
  • Any driver whose DWI causes the death of another person faces up to 30 years imprisonment.
  • A driving license revocation automatically triggers the offender’s boating license revocation.
Ignition Interlock Device

louisiana alcohol lawsAn ignition interlock device (IID) prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has any breath alcohol. Many DWI convictions require the installation of an IID on the offender’s vehicle. An IID may also be a requirement for a hardship license or reinstating a license.

Offenders must pay the costs for installation, maintenance, and monitoring.

Driver Rights

All drivers have a U.S. Constitutional right to decline submitting to a chemical BAC test. However, the state imposes a one year license suspension on those who us their right. If they use their right on a second occasion, the suspension is for 730 days. After the suspension, drivers must carry additional insurance coverage for three years.

louisiana alcohol lawsHowever, the state does not penalize drivers for refusing to take a field sobriety test. These are notoriously subjective and highly inaccurate. In fact, about one-third of completely sober people fail them. That is, many people with 0.00 BAC don’t pass them.

Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers not to take them. They say to politely but repeatedly refuse to submit. Officers learn clever ways to talk drivers into taking the tests.

They may falsely insist that the law requires it. No. The law doesn’t. They may say passing the test will prove they’re innocent. But to officers, passing is not proof of sobriety. Taking the test never helps drivers. It only harms them.

Learn much more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say DUI Lawyers.

Boating and Alcohol

louisiana alcohol lawsLouisiana alcohol laws prohibit operating a vessel while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. This includes riding water skis, surfboards, or similar devices.

People are intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.08 or higher. If they are under age 21, the level is 0.02 or higher.

There are penalties for operating a vessel while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. They are a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.

Boating under the influence checkpoints are used during peak holiday boating weekends.

Convictions for operating a boat under the influence affects the vehicle driving license record. It also increases insurance rates.

Boaters may use their right not to submit to a chemical BAC or drug test. However, the state can use that fact against the boater in court.

III. Resources on Louisiana Alcohol Laws

 IV. Seek good Advice and Information

The Louisiana legal system is based on Napoleonic rather than English law. This makes it unique. Louisiana alcohol laws are hard for outside lawyers. Do not rely on this or any other site. Or on neighbors. Friends. Or even relatives. Just smile and thank them. Then ignore what they say. It’s worth what they charged.

louisiana alcohol lawsGet information or advice about Louisiana alcohol laws from an expert. That’s a lawyer who holds a license in the state. Alcohol laws and their enforcement varies widely across the state. Therefore, it’s wise to select a lawyer who practices in the town or parish of interest.