Louisiana DWI Laws: FAQ

What is the first thing I should do after I'm arrested for DWI in Louisiana?

You should immediately consult with an attorney. The sooner you consult with an attorney, the sooner he can begin collecting evidence which is favorable to your case. The sooner friendly witnesses can be interviewed, the better their memories will be of the events which occurred surrounding your arrest. Additionally, certain other forms of physical evidence are more likely to be available and accurate if collected in close proximity to your arrest. Again remember that you only have 15 days from the date of your arrest to apply for an administrative hearing to contest the suspension of your driver's license.

Do I have to submit to a Chemical Sobriety Test in Louisiana?

Yes, or else there will be consequences. Under Louisiana’s implied consent law, any person, regardless of age, who operates a motor vehicle upon public highways shall be deemed to have given consent to a chemical test or tests of his blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his blood, and the presence of any abused substance or controlled dangerous substance in his blood if arrested for any offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while believed to be under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any abused substance or controlled dangerous substance.

If I took a breath test, can an attorney dispute the findings?

There are many issues to be resolved in a drunk driving case. The failure of the State to prevail on any of these issues could result in an acquittal. An example of some of those issues is as follows:

  • Probable cause. Did the law enforcement officer have reasonable grounds to stop you prior to the arrest? If the court determines that he did not, then all evidence which was seized after the stop must be suppressed from use at trial. This will result in an acquittal.
  • Operation. Can the law enforcement officer actually prove that you were operating a motor vehicle? If he cannot, then the end result will be an acquittal.
  • Did the officer have reasonable grounds to believe that you were operating a motor vehicle on a public highway under the influence of alcoholic beverages before he requested that you submit to the breath alcohol test? If not, then he cannot lawfully request that you submit to the test.
  • Can the prosecution lay a proper foundation to admit the breath alcohol test at trial? Before the court can accept a breath alcohol test into evidence, the prosecution must prove that the test was administered according to rules and regulations promulgated by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and according to statutory law. If the prosecution cannot do this, then the breath test is inadmissible.
  • Validity of the Breath Alcohol Test. The results of a breath alcohol test are not nearly as accurate as many people assume. There are many variables which can call into question the accuracy of the results.

What are the penalties for drunk driving in Louisiana?

Your 1st DWI conviction could cost you thousands of dollars in court costs, fines, lawyer fees, etc.

1st DWI conviction - MAXIMUM Penalties

  • A criminal record,
  • Six months in jail,
  • $1,000 fine plus court costs, and
  • Loss of driver’s license for 90 days (180 days if under age 21).

2nd DWI conviction - MAXIMUM Penalties:

  • A criminal record,
  • Six months in jail with 48 hours mandatory jail time,
  • $1,000 fine plus court costs, and
  • Loss of driver’s license for one year.

3rd DWI conviction - MAXIMUM Penalties

  • A felony criminal record,
  • 1-5 years in prison with 30 days mandatory jail time,
  • $2,000 fine plus court costs,
  • Loss of driver’s license for two years,
  • Auto may be seized and sold,
  • Six weeks inpatient and 12 months outpatient substance abuse treatment, and
  • Home incarceration for remainder of sentence.

4th DWI conviction - MAXIMUM Penalties

  • A felony criminal record,
  • 30 years in prison with 30 days mandatory jail time,
  • $5,000 fine plus court costs,
  • Loss of driver’s license for two years,
  • Auto may be seized and sold,
  • Six weeks inpatient and 12 months outpatient substance abuse treatment, and
  • Five years home incarceration.

DWI Penalties for a driver under age 21 include:

1st DWI Conviction:

  • Fine: $100-­$250,
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation and Driver Improvement School Required, and
  • 180 Day Driver’s License Suspension.

2nd DWI Second Conviction (Misdemeanor)

  • Fine: $150­-$500,
  • Jail: 10 days to 3 months (all of which may be suspended),
  • Community Service: 80 hours, and
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation and Driver Improvement School.

Will my license be suspended immediately upon a DWI Arrest in Louisiana?

No. When you are arrested for DWI and you either refuse to submit to a breath alcohol or blood alcohol test or submits to a breath alcohol or blood alcohol test with a reading of .08 or above, the arresting officer will seize your driver's license and issue in its place a temporary license which is good for 30 days. When this happens you have the right to an Administrative Hearing to determine if your driver's license will be suspended. In order to obtain an Administrative Hearing you must apply to the DMV, in writing, within 15 days of your arrest. If you do not timely apply for a hearing, your driver's license will be suspended when the 30 day temporary driver's license expires.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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