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Consequences for drunk driving convictions may soon be enhanced

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Being convicted of driving while intoxicated in Louisiana carries with it a slew of penalties. These consequences go beyond fines, the possibility of jail time and lost driving privileges. It can also have a negative impact on a person personally and professionally.

Drunk driving is a violation that can happen to anyone and it is important to know how to craft a viable legal defense against the charges. Part of that is understanding how legislators are addressing DWI and moving forward with implementing harsher penalties. A new series of laws might be put in effect to penalize those convicted of DWI and people confronted by these allegations must be aware of them.

Interlock devices would be required for a first-time DWI

The Louisiana Senate has passed a bill that would require drivers who have been convicted of a first offense DWI to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. Once signed by the governor, the law will dramatically change the landscape of DWI convictions.

The device uses a breathalyzer to determine if the driver was drinking. The vehicle will not start until the driver has blown into it and their blood alcohol concentration shows they have not been consuming alcohol. For a first conviction, it will need to be installed for 180 days. The existing law gives the court the option of sentencing the driver to having the device on their vehicle for 180 days, but it is not required. The new law mandates it.

As it stands, drivers who are convicted of a DWI will have their driver’s license suspended. The duration hinges on the details of the DWI. They can also receive a restricted license that will allow them to drive if they have the ignition interlock device installed.

Under the new law, those who have a previous DWI conviction and are convicted for a second time will need to have the ignition interlock device for the entire suspension or while they are on probation. Currently, they only need to do so for part of the suspension or probation.

DWI convictions can cause long-term challenges

DWI is treated very seriously in Louisiana and the penalties are set to become more severe. Not only can their freedom be jeopardized, but they will also face the possibility of losing employment and needing to find alternative ways to function each day.

If a person is charged with a felony DWI for a third offense, they could be incarcerated for up to five years and lose their driving privileges for three years. A fourth offense could lead to as much as 30 years in prison. There are other problems such as being negatively viewed when trying to get a job or find suitable housing. They will also lose the right to legally possess a firearm.

Although this can sound intimidating, all is not lost when there is a DWI charge. An effective criminal defense can be beneficial to reduce the charges or even gain an acquittal. There could have been a problem with the testing procedure, the evidence could be faulty or the justification for the traffic stop might have been questionable. In these cases, it is wise to know what the law currently says, what it might say in the future and what avenues are available to fight the charges.