The legal drinking age in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana is 21. Of course, minors determined to obtain and drink alcohol will almost always find a way to get booze. Just possessing any alcoholic beverage if you are a minor is a crime in Louisiana. While being charged as a minor in possession of alcohol is not something to be treated lightly, driving under the influence of alcohol if you are under 21 is exponentially more serious.

If you are under 21 and have been charged with DUI/DWI in Louisiana, you are facing some serious consequences, including possible jail time, loss of driving privileges, and hefty fines.

Louisiana Underage Drunk Driving Laws

Louisiana has a “zero tolerance” approach to underage DUI/DWI. This means that while the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for adults is .08%, it is .02% if you are under 21. This significantly lower threshold means that even half a beer could push some folks over the legal limit.

If your BAC is over .02% but under .08%, you can be charged and convicted for violating Louisiana Revised Statute 14.98.1, “Underage Operating While Intoxicated.” That statute makes it a crime to operate “any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance when the operator’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.02 percent or more.”

If, however, a minor’s BAC is found to be .08% or above, they will be charged pursuant to Louisiana’s adult DUI laws, which come with even harsher penalties than those that apply to underage drunk driving.

Penalties for Underage DUI in New Orleans

A first conviction for underage DUI/DWI could result in jail sentence between 10 days up to three months as well as fines of up to $250. However, many minors convicted of a first offense can have such a sentence suspended so long as they are placed on probation and they:

  • Perform 32 hours of court-approved community service activities, at least half of which shall consist of participation in a litter abatement or collection program, and
  • Participate in a court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement program.

If you are convicted of underage DWI a second or subsequent time, you face a minimum of 30 days up to a maximum of six months in jail along with a fine of up to $500. The sentence can be suspended by a judge if he or she puts you on probation and you:

  • Serve 48 hours in jail without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, or perform no less than 80 hours of court-approved community service activities, at least half of which shall consist of participation in a litter abatement or collection program
  • Participate in a court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement program.

Additionally, a judge may require the installation of an ignition interlock device as a condition of probation.

Call Bloom Legal to Speak With a DWI Defense Lawyer Immediately

At Bloom Legal, we understand how frightening it can be for a minor as well as for their parents after an arrest for underage DWI. That is why we are available 24/7 to provide you with assistance when and where you need us, in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana. When you contact us, we will get to work immediately. When you retain us, we will evaluate your situation, advise you of your options, and begin preparing the strategy best suited to your situation.

If you or your child have been charged with underage drunk driving, call Bloom Legal as soon as possible at 504-517-0487 or contact us online now.

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