Drunk driving laws in Louisiana impose penalties on motorists who are impaired by alcohol or by drugs. If you have a blood alcohol content above .08 or if you have consumed alcohol or drugs that prevent you from safely operating a motor vehicle, you can be charged with the crime of impaired driving.

It is important to be familiar with the drunk driving laws in Louisiana so you can understand your legal rights after an arrest. The New Orleans DUI lawyers at Bloom Legal know the law inside and out and can advise you during each step of a drunk driving case. If you are arrested for impaired driving, contact Bloom Legal right away to speak with an attorney.

Underage DWI and DUI Penalties in Louisiana

The aforementioned judicial punishments for violations of DWI and DUI Louisiana laws only account for adults operating vehicles in a relatively safe manner that do not result in injury.  For minors, any person under the age of 21 who operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration above .02% will be subject to a different scale of punishment as provided by Louisiana law.

  • First Conviction:
    • Fine: $100-$250
    • Must participate in a court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement program
  • Second and Subsequent Convictions:
    • Fine: $150-$500
    • Imprisonment: 10 days to 3 months
    • Suspension of the sentence is allowed if:
      • 2 days of jail is served and the offender participates in a court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement program; or,
      • Complete suspension is allowed if the offender participates in 10 8-hour days of community service, half of which include litter abatement and participates in a court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement program

Child Endangerment Law Penalties

Additionally, the state of Louisiana seeks to protect the rights of children from inebriated parents that choose to get behind the wheel.  If a child, 12 years old or younger, is present in vehicle during a DWI or DUI offense in the state of Louisiana, Child Endangerment Laws provide that suspension of a sentence is not allowed and the minimum must be served.

Thus, the mandatory minimums are:

  • First DWI or DUI Offense: 10 days of incarceration
  • Second DWI or DUI Offense: 30 days of incarceration
  • Third DWI or DUI: 1 year of incarceration
  • Fourth DWI or DUI: 10 years of incarceration

Penalties for Unlawful Refusal To Submit to Chemical Tests

Refusal to submit to a chemical test when you have refused on two previous and separate occasions results in the following penalties:

  • Fine: $300-$1000
  • Incarceration: 10 days to 6 months
  • Suspension of the sentence is allowed if:
    • 2 days of jail is served and the offender participates in a court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement program; or,
    • Complete suspension is allowed if the offender participates in 4 8-hour days of community service, half of which include litter abatement and participates in a court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement program

Though objective standards for ascertaining drivers who are under the influence of alcohol prevail across the country and the state of Louisiana, the influence of other factors and substances are much more subjective, which is beneficial to individuals facing these charges.  DWI and DUI laws in Louisiana, according to R.S.14:98, note that any driver over the age of 21 is intoxicated when possessing a blood alcohol content of or over .08%, and for drivers under the age of 21, illegal levels of intoxication occur with a blood alcohol content of .02% of higher, according to DWI and DUI laws in Louisiana.  With regards to DWI charges, however, under the influence can be the result of any number of very subjective conditions and actions, which can include:

  • Prescription medications, whether taken illicitly or legally
  • Over the counter medications
  • Sleep deprivation or driver fatigue
  • The gamut of illegal drugs and substances

For drivers and arresting officers, there are typically no standard methods of objectively ascertaining whether or not a driver is “intoxicated” due to the aforementioned substances and conditions.  Additionally, the presence of items, such as medications and sleep fatigue, is virtually untraceable or admissible in the court of law if taken legally.  Though officers will attempt to coerce information from drivers suspected of Louisiana DUI or DWI at the scene of a traffic stop, no information should be provided verbally.  In most cases of DWI or DUI, the only evidence presentable at a trial is the testimony of officers at the scene, which can be minimized in direct correlation to the amount of information arrested drivers provide.

Aside from testimony, whether from officers, dashboard cameras, or statements made by drivers under suspicion of DWI Louisiana, individuals may be asked to provide a urine or blood sample to ascertain the presence of illicit or legal substances in their system, and the concentration levels of these substances.

Penalties for refusal to submit to breath, urine, or blood sample requests:

  • First refusal: Driving privileges suspended for 1 year from the date of suspension, not eligible for hardship license if a fatality or serious bodily injury resulted from the accident and the driver’s intoxication was found to be a contributing factor to the fatality or injury
  • Second and subsequent refusals: Driving privileges suspended for 2 years from the date of suspension, not eligible for hardship license if a fatality or serious bodily injury resulted from the accident and the driver’s intoxication was found to be a contributing factor to the fatality or injury

Bloom Legal, in New Orleans, has experience counseling clients from the start to the finish of any DWI or DUI accusation in the State of Louisiana.  Individuals seeking counsel from Bloom Legal will be informed of their legal rights, as well as the best legal strategies for retaining their driver’s license, reducing probationary periods, eliminating incarceration, and preventing burdensome fines and other court mandates throughout the greater New Orleans area.

The metropolitan area of the city of New Orleans, including the areas New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner and the West Bank, covers seven parishes of the state of Louisiana including Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, St. Charles, and St. John the Baptist parishes.  Bloom Legal serves residents and tourists arrested for DWI or DUI in all of these locations as well as others throughout the state of Louisiana.  While the vast majority of the residents of the city of New Orleans live on the East Bank, a significant portion of Bloom Legal’s clientele is also derived from West Bank, Northshore, and River Parish residents as well.

Penalties for Drunk Driving

In Louisiana the penalties for drunk driving vary depending on whether you have prior convictions. For example:

  • For a first offense, you face between two days and six months of incarceration. Your fine may total as much as $1,000 and your license will be suspended for 90 days.
  • For a second offense, you face between 30 days and six months of incarceration. You may be fined $1,000 and your license may be suspended for one year if convicted.
  • For a third offense, you may be incarcerated between 45 days and five years. You face a $2,000 fine and a two-year license suspension. You will be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle when you get your license back. You must pay the cost of the IID and will need to blow into a breathalyzer before your vehicle can start.
  • For a fourth offense, you may face a term of incarceration between 75 days and 30 years long. You will be fined $5,000 and face a two-year license suspension. An ignition interlock device is required when you get your license back.
  • If you refuse to submit to a chemical test in Louisiana, you face an automatic license suspension of six months for a first or second offense. You also can be incarcerated for two days for a third refusal to submit to a chemical test.

The look back period in Louisiana is 10 years, which means any prior drunk driving convictions during this time period are relevant for determining the penalties you face. The DUI will count as a prior offense even if you were arrested and convicted in another state. Your DUI will also affect your license and future sentencing if you live in another state.

Getting Help After Your Arrest

If you are charged, you must consult with a New Orleans DUI lawyer for legal help. Bloom Legal can assist you in deciding how to plead, negotiating with a prosecutor to lessen the penalties and charges you face, and to raise defenses or avoid conviction. Call today to speak with a member of our legal team and learn more about how we can help: (504) 599-9997.

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