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Louisiana DWI Laws

Louisiana has an easy reputation and a laid-back atmosphere. Alcohol is also readily available in ways many states prohibit. As open container laws are lax, drive-through cocktails and street vendors dot the more populated areas.

Louisiana's more lenient stance on alcohol has come with dire consequences the state has been working to rectify. More than 40% of fatal car accidents in 2021 were alcohol-related, significantly higher than the national average of 31%.

To boost public safety, Louisiana has strict laws about driving under the influence (DUI). It is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Louisiana's driving while intoxicated (DWI) law imposes a jail sentence for most offenders. Other penalties include significant fines and driver's license suspension.

Whether you live in Louisiana or are just visiting, understand the state's DWI laws. The following information covers state DWI law, including blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits and violation penalties.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08%
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02%
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.15%
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes

Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense) 1 year / 2 years / 3 years
Mandatory Alcohol Education, or Assessment and Treatment Both
Vehicle Confiscation Possible? Yes
Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes

Note: State laws are constantly changing through legislative, judicial, or other means. While FindLaw works hard to ensure the accuracy of its legal resources, it's a good idea to thoroughly research the law or check with an attorney to ensure you have the most recent information.

Louisiana DWI Laws

Louisiana may refer to impaired driving as DUI, DWI, or OWI, but they are all the same offense.

The state of Louisiana prohibits anyone from operating a "motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance" when:

  • Under the influence of alcohol
  • Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08%
  • Under the influence of a controlled substance
  • Under the impact of a legal drug that causes impairment
  • Intoxicated by a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance or other drug

Louisiana's per se DWI law recognizes a BAC of 0.08% as legally intoxicated. The per se BAC limit is 0.04% if you are a commercial driver.

A per se law sets a legal limit for intoxication. At this limit, you face arrest for a DUI charge, and law enforcement doesn't need additional evidence of your impairment. A reliable chemical test showing your BAC is 0.08% or more is enough for the prosecutor.

Implied Consent

When law enforcement stops you for a suspected DWI, they will ask you to take a preliminary screening test, such as a Breathalyzer or breath test. The police officer may also have you participate in field sobriety tests. The results of these tests give the officer probable cause to arrest you. With probable cause, the police officer can get a warrant for further chemical tests, such as a blood test or urine analysis.

Under Louisiana's implied consent law, Louisiana considers that you have consented to these sobriety tests when you drive within the state. Law enforcement expects your cooperation.

Louisiana's implied consent law applied to the preliminary breath tests, as well as chemical tests. You may refuse to submit to these tests, but the officer will confiscate your driver's license immediately, and you may face criminal charges. Also, the police officer may still get a warrant and force you to submit to chemical tests.

A first refusal will see your driver's license suspended for one year. A second refusal in 10 years and your license gets suspended for two years. These penalties are in effect even if your DWI is dismissed or you're found not guilty.


Most first-offense DWI charges are misdemeanors, but they carry serious penalties. All convictions carry a risk of jail time. A judge may allow you to serve part of your sentence as home incarceration. The judge may decide to place you on probation with specific criteria required, such as community service and substance abuse treatment.

Possible penalties for a first offense:

  • Fine ranging from $300 to $1,000
  • 10 days to six months of jail time
  • 48 hours of jail time can be served as 32 hours of community service
  • Probation
  • Complete substance abuse program with assessment and treatment as recommended
  • Participate in a driver improvement program

Second-offense penalties may include:

  • Mandatory 48 hours of jail time
  • 30 days to six months of jail possible
  • 240 hours of community service in lieu of 15 days of jail time
  • Probation
  • Fines of $750 to $1,000
  • Complete a substance abuse assessment and treatment program
  • Participate in a driver improvement program

A third offense within 10 years is a felony charge. Possible penalties include:

  • One year mandatory jail time, with up to five years possible
  • Vehicles can be impounded and sold at auction
  • $2,000 fine
  • Probation
  • 240 hours of community service
  • Complete a substance abuse assessment and treatment program

Enhanced Penalties

Some circumstances will impact the seriousness of your DWI charge. You will receive a child endangerment charge if you are transporting a minor 12 years of age or younger at the time of your DWI arrest. Any possible jail sentence will be mandatory in this instance and isn't eligible for suspension.

If your BAC is 0.15% or greater for your first offense, you must serve 48 hours of jail time and any other sentence the judge imposes.

If your BAC is 0.20% or more, you will serve 48 hours in jail, and your fines increase to $750-$1,000. Louisiana will suspend your driving privileges for two years, requiring one year of an ignition interlock device.

Driver's License Suspension

Law enforcement will confiscate your driver's license when arrested for a DWI. The police officer will issue you a temporary license that's only valid for 30 days. At the end of these 30 days, your license suspension begins.

You will have 15 days to contact the Louisiana Department of Public Safety to request a hearing if you wish to challenge your suspension. You may request a hearing to dispute the DWI evidence.

For a first-offense DWI, when your BAC is 0.08 to 0.19%, you lose your driving privileges for one year. You lose your license for two years if your BAC is 0.20% or greater.

License suspension periods are double for a second offense within 10 years. If your BAC is between 0.08% and 0.19%, your license suspension is for two years, and four years if your BAC is 0.20% or more.

Ignition Interlock Device and Restricted License

Losing your driving privileges creates a lot of other problems. Louisiana's DUI laws allow you to apply for a hardship license that will allow you limited driving privileges. A hardship license allows you to drive for limited purposes. These include going to work, school, the grocery store, or DWI treatment.

If approved for a hardship license, you must have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed at your expense in any vehicle you drive. An IID is a breath-testing device installed in your vehicle's ignition system. You must provide a breath sample before you start your car. If the device detects alcohol, it will not allow the vehicle to start.

You must maintain the IID for the remainder of your suspension period at your own expense.

Underage DWI

Louisiana recognizes a zero-tolerance law for underage intoxicated driving. If your BAC is 0.02% to 0.07%, you will receive an underage DWI. If convicted, you face 10 days to three months in jail, with a fine of $100 to $250.

The judge can place you on probation and suspend part of your jail time. Terms of probation will include 32 hours of community service. You will need to undergo a substance abuse assessment and complete any recommended treatment. You will also need to complete a driver improvement program.

Your driver's license suspension is for 180 days for a first offense. If you refuse to cooperate with chemical tests, you lose your driver's license for one year.

You face adult penalties for your DWI if your BAC is 0.08% or more.

Louisiana DWI Resources

Get Help With Your Case From a Louisiana DWI Lawyer

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a dangerous choice. If you find yourself facing a DWI charge, you may feel overwhelmed. Speaking to a defense attorney who works with DWI cases is a good starting point. An attorney can provide valuable legal advice and will work on your behalf to resolve your case. Get started today by contacting a Louisiana DWI attorney in your neighborhood.

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