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Driving under the influence (DUI) or while intoxicated (DWI) are serious offenses in Louisiana. Certain factors, including the driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and the number of previous DUI/DWI offenses, can affect a charged person’s penalties.

Given the severity of a DWI/DUI charge and the implications of the penalties, it is vital to have the proper representation of a dedicated criminal attorney to represent your case.

What is Considered Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in the State of Louisiana?

Under Louisiana driving laws, Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limits in operating a vehicle are as follow:

  • All drivers must have a BAC of no more than 0.08%;
  • Commercial drivers must have a BAC of no more than 0.04%; and
  • Minor drivers, which are those under the age of 21, must have a BAC of no more than 0.02%

Any BAC over the limits listed above is a DUI/DWI violation and is subject to criminal prosecution. A DUI/DWI charge is an additional charge to any other unlawful acts stemming from the same events.

Are DUI Offenses Considered a Misdemeanor or Felony Charge in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, DUI/DWI offenses are categorized between felony and misdemeanor DUI/DWI.

First and second DUI/DWI offenses are classified as misdemeanor charges, while a third or more DUI/DWIs are charged as a felony.

What are the Penalties for a Misdemeanor First DUI/DWI Offense in Louisiana?

A person’s first DUI/DWI offense is classified as a misdemeanor in the state of Louisiana, and the court can impose the following penalties:

  • A fine of $300 up to $1,000;
  • Jail sentence from 10 days for up to 6 months;
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 12 months;
  • Restricted driver’s license, which can be immediately done at the time of arrest; and
  • Mandatory installation of an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) on the driver’s automobile for the entire suspension period.

However, the court can raise the sentence to the following if the driver’s BAC (or blood alcohol content) is higher than 0.20%:

  • A fine of $750 for up to $1,000
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to two years

Other possible penalties that the court can impose includes:

  • A minimum of 32 hours of community service;
  • Mandatory attendance to a court-approved substance abuse program and driver improvement program

What are the Penalties for a Misdemeanor Second DUI/DWI Offense in Louisiana?

As stated above, a second DUI/DWI offense is still considered a misdemeanor in the state of Louisiana. The court can impose the following sentence for this offense:

  • A $750 for up to $1,000 fine;
  • Jail sentence from 30 days to up to 6 months;
  • A probation period of up to 6 months, of which 48 hours must be served in jail;
  • Mandatory community service of at least 240 hours; and
  • Mandatory attendance to court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement programs.

The following special penalty requirements are also imposed on second-time DUI/DWI offenders:

  • An offender with at least a .15 BAC must serve at least 96 hours of their jail sentence;
  • An offender with at least a .20 BAC must serve a mandatory 96 hours of their jail sentence, must pay a $1,000 fine, required to install an IID on their vehicle for at least three years, and their driver’s license is suspended for five years.

What are the Penalties for a Felony Third DUI/DWI Offense in Louisiana?

In the state of Louisiana, a third DUI/DWI offense is classified as a felony, and the court can impose the following sentence for such offense:

  • A $2,000 fine;
  • Imprisonment for one year and for up to 5 years, of which at least one year must be served without the suspension of sentence;
  • A probation period of up to 5 years, of which one year must be served in jail;
  • Mandatory community service of at least 240 hours;
  • Mandatory attendance to court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement programs;
  • Required substance abuse evaluation to determine the nature and extent of the offender’s addictive disorder, along with the mandatory inpatient substance abuse treatment for four weeks, in addition to the outpatient treatment of up to 12 months; and
  • Mandatory installation of IID on all vehicles driven by the offender.

What are the Penalties for a Felony Fourth or Succeeding DUI/DWI Offense in Louisiana?

Similar to a third-time DUI/DWI offense, the fourth or any subsequent DUI/DWI offense is classified as a felony in the state of Louisiana. However, these type of offenses carries harsher penalties than the third offense and includes:

  • A $5,000 fine;
  • A prison sentence of at least ten years and up to a maximum of 30 years;
  • Probation sentence of up to 5 years;
  • 320 mandatory community service;
  • A mandatory substance abuse evaluation to determine the nature and extent of the offender’s addictive disorder; and
  • A required substance abuse inpatient treatment for four weeks, plus up to 12 months of outpatient therapy.

Are My DUI/DW Offenses from Another State Within Ten (10) Years Counted in Determining the Severity of My DUI/DWI Charge in Louisiana?

Yes, other DUI/DWI violations committed in other states are considered in classifying the current DUI/DWI charge committed in Louisiana.

For example, suppose you are convicted of two other DUI/DWI offenses in another state. In that case, the previous charges are considered, and you will be charged with a felony third DUI/DWI offense even if this is your first DUI/DWI charge in Louisiana.

Thus, committing a DUI/DWI is an offense that has profound implications and penalties. Moreover, other factors including but not limited to previous DUI/DWI offenses in other states can negatively impact a DUI/DWI charge and penalties. Therefore, you must have the proper representation of an experienced criminal attorney to advocate for your interest in a DUI/DWI case.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI/DWI offense in Louisiana, you should speak with us. Our firm has extensive knowledge and experience in DUI/DWI charges, and our attorneys can represent you on your DUI/DWI charges. Please feel free to give us a call at (225) 963-9638, or you can go to our website at  www.messerfirm.com to contact us and schedule a consultation.