Overview of DWI
DWI, driving while intoxicated, is a serious crime in Louisiana. DWI and DUI (driving under the influence) are similar – while DWI usually refers to alcohol, DUI can include other substances. If you have been stopped for DWI in Louisiana, there are some important things to know. As part of obtaining your driver’s license, you agree to submit to blood, breath, or urine testing if requested by a police officer. If you refuse to take the test, it becomes admissible in court as consciousness of guilt and carries an additional punishment. Refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in an automatic driver’s license suspension for six months (or longer if you have previously refused to submit to a test).
If you have been charged with DWI, it is important to hire an attorney as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence because, in Louisiana, you have only 15 days to request a hearing from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Failure to request a hearing will result in suspension of your driver’s license. The hearing is separate from criminal charges, which will be handled in a court of law. Your attorney will request a hearing and will represent you to try to keep your license from being suspended.
Louisiana laws offer a safe harbor for people who have certain blood alcohol levels. If your blood alcohol level is below .05, you will be presumed to NOT be driving under the influence of alcohol. When the blood alcohol level is between .05 and .08, there is no presumption about impairment. If the blood alcohol level is .08 or above, it is presumed that the person is impaired. These laws apply to drivers over the age of 21. The blood alcohol limit for those under the age of 21 is .02.
In many cases, DWI is charged as a misdemeanor. However, those who have had a previous DWI conviction will likely be charged with a felony if the previous conviction was within the last 10 years. If you are charged with DWI, the first penalty you will face is the immediate suspension of your driver’s license. Suspension is mandatory unless you have requested a hearing within the first 15 days. If you hire an attorney, however, he or she will request the hearing and will represent you. Likely you will be advised that, if you have been charged with DWI, you should not admit guilt. This is why it is important to speak with your attorney as quickly as possible.
If you are convicted of DWI, you may be subject to these penalties:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Jail Sentence
- Community Service
The penalties for subsequent convictions are increased. You may also face additional penalties if you were involved in an accident with injuries or death as the result of DWI.
Defending DWI in Louisiana
If you have been charged with DWI, the first and most important step is to seek the help of an experienced DWI attorney. A lawyer will represent you in the first hearing and throughout your case including trial. Hiring a DWI attorney will help you keep your license, reduce your charges, lower your bail, and reduce the penalties if found guilty. Your attorney will work hard to get the best possible outcome for you. Choose an attorney with experience representing DWI cases. Call The Ambeau Law Firm to get a free consultation with an experienced attorney who knows the law and how to put together a strong defense. You can be sure that every effort will be made to save your driving privileges and reduce your sentence.