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What is a per se OWI charge in Louisiana?

Too many Louisiana drivers plead guilty when accused of vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). Most tend to hope that they’ll receive a lenient sentence because they took responsibility for their alleged actions, even if they know that they weren’t impaired. They may know that they were not too drunk to drive and yet feel as though they cannot fight the charges they face.

Yet, the circumstances leading to someone’s arrest strongly influence the defense strategy that could work in their case. Someone accused of a per se OWI would have very different concerns than someone accused of driving poorly and then causing a crash while drunk. What is a per se OWI offense?

A per se OWI is a technical violation

It is illegal to drive when under the influence of alcohol or other drugs that affect driving ability. If substances have affected someone’s decision-making ability, reaction time or performance at the wheel, then police officers could arrest them for an OWI when they display impairment.

Other people get arrested for technically violating the law. Louisiana limits someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% for most drivers over the age of 21. Those driving a commercial vehicle, like a semi-truck, cannot have a BAC of 0.04% or higher. The limit is just 0.02% for those under the age of 21.

Anyone who tests at or over the BAC limit that applies to them may have committed a per se OWI infraction. It is illegal to drive with an elevated BAC regardless of the impact that it has on ability due to the per se statute.

Better understanding the type of charges that someone faces, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, can help with the development of the strongest defense strategy for their unique circumstances.