DWI Laws in Louisiana

Laws and penalties for DWI in Louisiana.

In Louisiana, you can get a DWI (driving while intoxicated), sometimes called a DUI or OWI, if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, regardless of whether your driving ability was actually impaired. However, you can also get a DWI if you drive while “under the influence” of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of the two. You’re considered under the influence if—as the result of ingesting drugs and/or alcohol—you don’t have normal use of your “physical and mental faculties.”

And the law in Louisiana says that if you’re driving or in physical control of a vehicle, you’ve given consent to submit to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol in your blood. Here are some details on the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test in Louisiana and other details about Louisiana DWI law.

In Louisiana, what are the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test (usually a breathalyzer or blood test) when suspected of DWI?

Here are the consequences for refusing to take a breathalyzer or blood test in Louisiana, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

1 year license suspension, but eligible for restricted license with ignition interlock device (IID)

2 year license suspension, but eligible for restricted license with IID

2 year license suspension, 2 days jail or 32 hours community service and substance abuse treatment

 

Louisiana is in the group of states that make it a crime to refuse a chemical test under certain circumstances. Generally, refusal is a crime in Louisiana if the intoxicated driver either caused an accident in which someone was killed or seriously injured or has refused chemical testing at least twice in the past. In either situation, the driver faces at least two days in jail or 32 hours of community service; if community service is ordered, the driver will also have to do a court-approved substance abuse program. 

In Louisiana, when do police have to measure your BAC?

In Louisiana, law enforcement officers are supposed to measure your BAC at the time of driving. However, prosecutors may be able to prove your culpability for DWI even if your BAC is taken later than this time.

What is the maximum BAC for drivers under 21 in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, the maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers who are under 21 (considered minors under some drinking and driving laws) is .02%. The penalties are the same as those for drivers over 21 years of age.

What are the minimum jail times for a DWI in Louisiana?

Here are the minimum jail times for a DWI in Louisiana, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

2 days jail, or 32 hours community service

15 days jail, or 240 hours of community service

1 year jail, or drug diversion probation program

 

How long will prior DWI convictions remain relevant for sentencing purposes in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, for most purposes, prior DWI convictions stay on your record (and can be counted against you when you are being sentenced for another DWI offense) for ten years.

Can a DWI be “pleaded down” to a "wet reckless" in Louisiana?

A defendant might receive a "wet reckless," or a conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol, as a result of a plea bargain in which a DWI charge is reduced to reckless driving. Louisiana has no law prohibiting plea bargains in DWI cases. So, depending on the circumstances of your case, it might be possible for a lawyer to plead your DWI down to a reckless driving charge.

If you are interested in contacting a lawyer, you can find a DWI lawyer in your area in Nolo's Lawyer Directory.

Are ignition interlock devices (IIDs) required for convicted DWI offenders in Louisiana?

For second and subsequent offenses, IIDs are mandatory during the time you’re on probation. For a first offense, the judge can order an IID, but the law doesn’t require it.

Also, you’ll need to get an IID installed if you want to get a restricted license—generally, for driving only to and from work and medical appointments—while your license is suspended for a DWI.

Where can I get more information about DWI laws in Louisiana?

Nolo's DUI/DWI topic has many helpful articles, including a Drunk Driving, DUI, and DWI FAQ. For more help after a DWI arrest, see Nolo's Lawyer Directory, where you can view in-depth profiles of Louisiana DWI attorneys in your area.

Last updated on 3/7/2016.

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