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DWI in Louisiana: Will you face jail time?

A young women called our office yesterday morning and I could tell by the tone in her voice she was upset.  Not mad…just confused and worried.  She was calling about a DWI, her first one.  In fact, she has never been in trouble with the law before.  After we went over her case I asked what questions she had….and at this point I could tell she was holding back tears…”will I go back to jail?”   I get it.  It’s already been a terrible experience.  Just like her, if you’ve been arrested for DWI in Louisiana, one of your primary concerns might be whether you will face jail time. In short, I alleviated her fears as I assured her she would not be facing jail time (in her case she had low BAC, it was her first DWI and there wasn’t any aggravating circumstances). However, that isn’t the case for everyone.  Here is an overview of what I discussed with her yesterday.

1. Understanding Louisiana DWI Laws: Louisiana has strict DWI laws in place to deter drunk driving and protect public safety. The penalties for DWI can vary depending on several factors, including your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), prior convictions, and whether any aggravating circumstances were present at the time of your arrest.

2. First-Time DWI Offense: If you are a first-time offender with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.15%, you may face a maximum of six months in jail. However, judges often have the discretion to suspend all or part of the jail sentence, especially if you complete court-mandated programs and probation successfully.

3. Enhanced Penalties for Higher BAC: If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, the penalties become more severe. You could face up to six months in jail for a first offense, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 48 hours. For a second offense, the mandatory minimum sentence increases to 96 hours.

4. Subsequent Offenses: Subsequent DWI convictions within a ten-year period carry harsher penalties. For a second offense, you may face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days, while a third offense can result in a minimum of one year in jail.

5. Aggravating Factors: If there were aggravating factors present during your DWI arrest, such as causing an accident with injuries, having a minor in the vehicle, or having a suspended license, you may face enhanced penalties, including longer jail sentences.

6. Refusing a BAC Test: Louisiana has implied consent laws, meaning that by driving on the state’s roads, you have already consented to take a BAC test if law enforcement suspects you of DWI. Refusing to take a BAC test can result in a license suspension and may not necessarily prevent you from facing jail time.

7. Alternatives to Jail: In some cases, judges may offer alternatives to jail time, such as probation, mandatory alcohol education programs, or participation in a substance abuse treatment program. These options can be beneficial in reducing your jail sentence.

8. Legal Defense Strategies: If you’re facing DWI charges in Louisiana, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled DWI cases before. At our firm, we’ve handled over 250 cases in 10+ years.  We’ve seen it all.  We review the details of your case attack weaknesses in the case. This might include challenging the validity of the traffic stop, the accuracy of BAC test results, or the legality of your arrest.

9. Taking Action: If you’ve been arrested for DWI in Louisiana, it’s essential to take immediate action. Call our office today at 504-434-7000 to set up a time to talk with me.  I’ll go over your DWI charge and together we’ll talk about your options.

Bottom line, whether you will face jail time for a DWI in Louisiana depends on various factors, including your BAC, prior convictions, and the presence of aggravating circumstances. While jail time is a possibility, it is not guaranteed, especially with the help of an experienced DWI defense attorney. It’s crucial to take your charges seriously, seek legal counsel, and explore all available defense options to protect your rights and minimize the impact on your life. DWI laws can be complex, but with the right legal representation, you can navigate the legal system and work toward a favorable outcome.