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Understanding Louisiana's DWI/DUI laws

Louisiana drivers who get behind the wheel after having a few drinks or engaging in the use of illegal drugs do so at their own risk. Louisiana has stiff penalties for driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence of illegal substances. The Louisiana Office of Alcohol & Tobacco Control states that a Louisiana driver must have a blood alcohol content of less than 0.08 percent in order to be considered legal to drive. That level decreases to less than 0.02 percent if the driver is someone under the legal drinking age of 21.

A first offense for DWI/DUI can result in a six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. In addition, the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles is mandated to suspend the driver's license of anyone convicted of DWI/DUI in a city, municipal, magistrate, district or federal court. For a first offense, the suspension can be for as long as 90 days; for someone under age 21, the period is six months.

Subsequent DWI/DUI convictions

A second DWI/DUI conviction requires a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours, although the sentence could be for as long as six months. The fine remains $1,000, but the mandatory driver's license suspension period is one year.

A third DWI/DUI conviction is a felony. The minimum jail sentence is 45 days, but the convicted person could be incarcerated for up to five years. The fine increases to $2,000 and the mandatory suspension period can be for as long as two years. In addition, the offender must spend six weeks in an inpatient substance abuse program and do 30 days of community service.

If convicted of DWI/DUI for a fourth time, the incarceration range is 75 days to 30 years. The fine increases to $5,000, but the mandatory suspension period remains two years. The six-week inpatient substance abuse program likewise remains the same. The community service requirement, however, increases to 40 days and the court also has the right to seize and sell the offender's vehicle.

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