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DWI’s in New Orleans, Louisiana

Posted on Aug 16, 2013 in DUI/DWI

It is no secret that there is a “drinking culture” in New Orleans. From the lack of open container laws or “closing time,” to drive-thru daiquiri shops and “go cups,” alcohol is ingrained in our culture. New Orleans is even the home of The Museum of the American Cocktail. Because alcohol often goes hand-in-hand with local festivities, or is at least readily available in a way unlike [unique from] most other American cities, New Orleanians pride themselves on their ability to drink responsibly. This could be why there is such a laissez-faire approach to legal limitations on public consumption. Do not assume, however, that this lack of regulation of where you can consume alcohol carries over to the consequences [imposed] when your actions violate the law. Louisiana, like every other state, has a “legal limit” of .08 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), and if you are charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)—also commonly known as Driving Under the Influence, or dwi—the legal consequences are serious and can be life-altering. One thing many people do not anticipate is how complex and confusing the judicial process can be. Anyone who has been faced with navigating the justice system—whether it is for a traffic ticket, (nolatix.com) or a criminal charge—will tell you that it can be complicated and frustrating. This is particularly true of dwi's because it involves both the criminal court system as well as the department of motor vehicles. Further, there are a number of variables that will determine what your sentence could entail, including your BAC or if you have had a DWI in the past. (Louisiana Revised Statute §14:98—Operating a vehicle while intoxicated—is the controlling statute for a DWI.) For example, for a first-time dwi offender, with a BAC great than .08 but less than .15, the minimum sentence involves 10 days in jail (or two days plus substance abuse treatment and enrollment in a driver improvement program) and 32 hours of community service. Additionally, the offender will pay at least $300 (but can be up to $1000) in court fees and is responsible for paying for all other costs associated with the sentence (i.e. the cost of treatment and classes). Finally, the offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for 90 days. If you have a BAC greater than .15, or have had a prior dwi (or multiple dwis) the time you will spend in jail, the amount of community service you must perform, and your court fees increase significantly. There are also additional consequences, such as mandatory inpatient substance abuse treatment or the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (which is basically a “breathalyzer on wheels” which you must use to start your vehicle as well as at various intervals while driving) in your car. No matter what “category” of offender you fall into, the entire process is time-consuming, expensive, and has major consequences for your life and lifestyle. FAQ 1.Is dui a felony? No, but there are severe consequences nonetheless. 2.How can I “beat” a dwi? You can’t “beat” a dwi, but because there is a range for each aspect of a sentence—for example, the court fee imposed for a first offense ranges from $300 to $1000—the amount of time, money, etc. spent on the offense will vary. (This is why having an experienced attorney is key!) 3.Will I serve jail time? Possibly. The amount varies depending on if you have a prior DWI or if your BAC was above a certain number. In some instances jail time can be replaced with in-home incarceration, electronic monitoring, or supervised or unsupervised probation. It's important to get a good lawyer to avoid unwanted jail time and license suspensions.

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