Driving while intoxicated (DWI), or “driving under the influence” (DUI), is a serious criminal offense. In Louisiana it is illegal to operate a vehicle, watercraft, vessel, or any other form of transportation while intoxicated. The following table highlights the main aspects of Louisiana’s DWI laws.
Louisiana Code of Law section 14:98 – Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated
Operating a vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or any other form of transportation when:
- The driver is under the influence of alcoholic beverages
- The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher
- The driver is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance
- The driver is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and a drug that can be legally purchased with or without a prescription, or
- The driver is under the influence of a drug that can be legally purchased with or without a prescription
The punishment for DWI convictions in Louisiana varies depending on whether or not the offender has previously been convicted of driving while intoxicated. It is important to note that prior convictions committed more than ten years before aren’t considered.
- First offense: Punishably by a fine of between $300 and $1,000 and imprisonment for between ten days and six months.
- The sentence may be suspended if the offender is placed on probation and completes all of the following; 48 hours in jail, at least 32 hours of community service, participate in a court ordered substance abuse program, and participate in a driver improvement program. The court can order the offender not to operate a vehicle while on probation unless the vehicle has an ignition interlock device installed.
- If the offender’s BAC is above 0.20% then the crime is punishable by a fine of between $750 and $1,000 and the driver’s license is suspended for two years. Following the suspension an ignition interlock device must be on the offender’s car for the next 12 months.
- Second offense: Punishable by a fine of between $750 and $1,000 and imprisonment for between 30 days and six months.
- The sentence may be suspended if the offender is on probation and serves at least 15 days in jail, does 240 hours of community service, participates in a court ordered substance abuse program, participates in a driver improvement program, and the court can order the offender to only drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device for 6 months.
- If the offender’s BAC was 0.20% or more then the crime is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and the driver’s license is suspended for four years.
- Third offense: Punishable by a fine of $2,000 and imprisonment for between one and five years.
- The sentence may be suspended if the offender is accepted into a drug division probation program, completes 240 hours of community service, obtains employment, participates in a driver improvement program, and completes either an evaluation by the Department of Health and Hospitals and participate in any treatment plan that is recommended or participates in a substance abuse treatment in an alcohol and drug abuse program.
- Must have an ignition interlock device installed on offender’s vehicle until all of the above requirements have been completed.
- The offender’s vehicle can be seized, impounded, and sold at auction.
Child Endangerment Law
If a child 12 years old or younger is a passenger in the vehicle when a DWI is committed, then the mandatory sentence can’t be suspended.
State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Louisiana’s driving while intoxicated laws contact a local DWI lawyer.