Is a Third DWI Offense a Felony?

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a serious offense in any state. A conviction of this offense results in many penalties. Those penalties become harsher and the charge more serious as subsequent offenses accrue over time. That holds true in Louisiana as it does in other states. When facing a first, second, third, or subsequent DWI offense in our state, your first priority should be to seek the help of an attorney who understands the complicated technical and legal aspects of DWI.

It is unwise to think that your arrest will result in an automatic conviction so why bother seeking legal counsel. Any criminal offense may have key factors that can work in your defense; you are innocent until proven guilty and, with proper legal representation, your chances of prevailing in court can be raised dramatically.

Third DWI Offense Charges in Louisiana

In Louisiana, DWI is referred to as OWI, meaning operating a vehicle, aircraft, or boat while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. This definition includes:

  • Operating with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher
  • Operating when you are under the influence and it is observable by law enforcement no matter what your BAC measures
  • Operating when under the influence of a mixture of alcohol and both illegal and legal drugs, including prescription medicines

Operating with a BAC that measures .15 or above will be punished even more severely than offenses below this threshold. Furthermore, each DWI offense committed within a 10-year period will also be considered more serious bringing more severe penalties.

First and second Louisiana DWI offenses are generally charged as misdemeanors. A third DWI offense in 10 years, however, is elevated to the category of a felony. As a result, it carries harsher penalties.

What Are the Penalties for a Third DWI Offense in Louisiana?

The penalties for a third DWI can include:

  • $2,000 in fines
  • A prison term of one to five years; at least one year in jail must be served
  • Up to five years of probation that may include community service
  • Up to 240 hours of community service
  • Evaluation of your substance abuse level
  • Completion of four weeks of substance abuse treatment as an inpatient
  • Completion of up to 12 months of substance abuse treatment on an outpatient basis
  • House arrest while under probation for up to six months that can involve tracking devices, curfews, or electronic monitoring all at your own expense
  • State seizure of your vehicle
  • Installment and maintenance of an ignition interlock device at your own expense

If your offense included driving with a child under the age of 13, you may also be charged with child endangerment and may not be given probation as an option. Anyone whose DWI caused injuries or the death of another will face increased penalties.

Driver’s License Suspension for a Third-Offense DWI

As in any other DWI, your third offense conviction will be reported to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The DPS will then impose a 36-month license suspension. In most cases, however, you will be able to apply for a hardship license if you install and maintain an ignition interlock device. If your BAC measured .20 or more, your license suspension may be longer.

Charged with DWI in Baton Rouge?

If you are facing a third-offense DWI or any other DWI in or around the Baton Rouge area, you should discuss your case with an attorney at The Ambeau Law Firm. With decades of experience that includes conducting various jury trials, our firm has the knowledge, skills, and resources to put a strong defense on your side.

Phone our offices at (225) 230-1181 or contact us online to get started.