Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Louisiana

In a state known for allowing drinking on the street and drive-thru liquor stores, the laws against drunk driving are still very strict. The penalties and stigma of drunk driving charges in Louisiana are good reasons for drivers to think twice before getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking.

Understanding how Louisiana handles drunk driving can help you understand your rights and find a knowledgeable Louisiana DUI defense attorney to help resolve your case.

Louisiana Drunk Driving Laws

Louisiana law criminalizes operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OWI) of alcohol or drugs, as well as operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or greater, also referred to as a per se OWI charge.

For a per se OWI, the prosecutor does not need to prove actual impairment and only needs to offer evidence of a reliable chemical test showing that your BAC level was over the legal limit. The legal limit lowers to a BAC of .02% or more for a driver age 21 years or under. The legal limit for commercial drivers is no more than .04% or more.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .15% to .19%; BAC of .20% and over; operating a vehicle with a child 12 years of age or younger in the vehicle; causing an accident resulting in injury or death

Typically, an OWI in Louisiana is a misdemeanor, with the penalties depending on how many prior convictions one has.

  • First offense: 10 days to 6 months imprisonment, 48 hours jail but with the option, if there are no other aggravating factors, of completing 32 hours of community work service in place of jail, fines of $300 to $1,000 in fines, license suspension with the potential for an ignition interlock device (IID) upon license reinstatement, and potentially probation.
  • Second offense: 30 days to 6 months imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum of 48 hours that must be served, and you may be ordered to serve 15 days of jail without probation or instead of serving the 15 days jail you may have the option to do 240 hours of community work service, $750 to $1,000 in fines, a license suspension, and IID requirement.

Louisiana does allow for OWI to be a felony offense in certain circumstances. This is typically reserved for the third or higher offense and comes with penalties starting at:

  • 1 year to five years imprisonment, a $2,000 fine, driver’s license suspension, 240 hours of community service, substance abuse evaluation and treatment, probation, vehicle forfeiture, and an ignition interlock device.

Drunk Driving Defenses for Louisiana Drivers

Drivers in Louisiana may be able to benefit from a plea bargain in drunk driving cases. A common type of plea deal commonly includes allowing you to plead to reckless driving as a lesser charge to drunk driving. It is up to the prosecutor to determine if a plea deal will be offered in your individual case.

Drunk driving convictions can affect your employment, ability to drive, and finances. Consult with a qualified drunk driving lawyer to determine your legal options and how to get the best possible outcome.

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