How Can a DWI Conviction Impact You?

Posted by Jarrett P. AmbeauDec 29, 20220 Comments

A DWI conviction can negatively impact your career, finances and overall quality of life. If you have been arrested for a DWI, hiring a skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney who can fight for you in court is important.

Law enforcement may charge you with a DWI or DUI if you are operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, or watercraft:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater
  • while under the influence of any controlled substance 
  • while under the influence of both alcohol and any legally obtainable drugs

DWI is a serious offense in Louisiana with severe consequences.

Penalties for a DWI conviction in Louisiana include jail time, a suspended license, fines and more

DWI is a serious criminal offense in Louisiana - it is not simply a traffic ticket. A DWI conviction can lead to jail time, substantial fines, and a suspension of your driver's license.

The court may impose a suspension of your driver's license but will be handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Reinstatement of your driver's license must be completed through the DMV.

The exact consequences of a DWI conviction depend on the type of DWI charge you face.

First Offense DWI Conviction

In Louisiana, a first-offense DWI is considered a misdemeanor. If convicted of a first-offense DWI, you face the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment for up to 6 months
  • A fine of $300-$1,000

Penalties for a first-offense DWI may also include the following:

  • Education programs such as the MADD victim program, driver improvement or substance abuse classes.
  • Community service.
  • Probation for up to two years.
  • Ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
  • A driver's license suspension for up to 12 months. If your BAC is higher than .20, your license may be suspended for up to two years. 

In some cases for first-time offenders, the prison term may be suspended if the offender is placed on probation and has carried out the following;

  • A minimum of 32 hours of community service
  • Completed a substance abuse program recommended by the court
  • Attends a driver improvement program

Second Offense DWI Conviction

A second-offense DWI is classified as a misdemeanor in Louisiana. A conviction of a second-offense DWI may result in the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment for up to 6 months with up to 48 days of mandatory jail time without parole or suspension.
  • A fine of $750-$1000.
  • 48 mandatory days of jail time without parole or suspension of sentence.
  • 30 days of community service.
  • Probation, which may include a 15-day jail stay and substance abuse training.
  • A suspended driver's license for up to two years.
  • The installation of an Ignition interlock device (IID). Judges typically require second-offense DWI offenders to have an IID installed in their vehicle for up to 6 months.

Third Offense DWI 

A third driving while intoxicated charge is considered a felony in Louisiana. The penalties for a third offense DWI are much more severe. These penalties include:

  • Imprisonment for one to five years with or without hard labor. For a third offense DWI conviction, at least one year of the jail sentence must be served without suspension or probation.
  • A $2,000 fine.
  • 30 days of community service.
  • A suspended driver's license.
  • Probation or home incarceration.
  • Psychological evaluation
  • The installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). In Louisiana, offenders convicted of a third offense DWI are required to install an ignition interlock device on all vehicles the offender drives. 
  • Inpatient Treatment for approximately four weeks. This may be followed by outpatient treatment for up to one year.
  • Under Louisiana law, if a person is convicted of a third offense DWI the prosecutor is given the right to seize the vehicle of the offender

Fourth Offense DWI 

All fourth (and subsequent) driving while intoxicated charges are considered a felony in Louisiana. Penalties stipulated for offenders include:

  • Imprisonment for 10 - 30 years. Two years of the sentence must be served without suspension or parole.
  • A fine of up to $5,000.
  • 40 days of community service that is typically more involved than the standard trash pickup for other DWI convictions.
  • Confiscation of the offender's vehicle.
  • Inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment for up to two years.
  • A suspended driver's license.
  • The installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). 

Special Penalties

For all DWI offenses, there are special penalties imposed in certain circumstances. These include:

  • High BAC level - if the BAC level of the offender is over 0.15%, the offender will be required to serve additional jail time that cannot be suspended. If the offender has a BAC level of more than 0.20%, an ignition interlock device (IID) will be installed in the vehicle of the offender for up to two years.
  • Child Endangerment - If law enforcement determines that a child endangerment law has been violated, a portion of the jail sentence cannot be suspended.

A DWI conviction can impact your job and professional license.

A DWI conviction can have a wide range of consequences beyond the penalties you may face in court. A DWI on your record may result in the suspension or revocation of a professional license. Professional organizations and licensing boards that base licensure on trust and moral judgment are more likely to suspend or revoke your license if you are convicted of a DWI. These professions may include:

  • Physician
  • Nurse
  • Educator
  • Real estate agent
  • Insurance agent
  • Military personnel

In addition to the revocation of a current professional license, a DWI conviction may result in the denial of a license you apply for in the future. 

Commercial Drivers

In Louisiana, a DWI conviction will result in a minimum one-year suspension of a commercial drivers license. For most commercial drivers, this means losing your job. In addition to losing your commercial driver license, you may be sentenced to jail time and required to pay more than $5,000 in fees.

 It may also affect other aspects of your life, such as child custody or the cost of your car insurance coverage. Your auto insurance may be more expensive if you are convicted of DWI. Some insurance companies may raise your premiums, cancel your policy, refuse to renew it or refuse to write you a new policy.

If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated, it's important to know how this offense could impact your personal and professional life in the future.

What should I do after being arrested for a DWI?

If you have been arrested for DWI in Louisiana, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges.

Louisiana law allows defendants to challenge their DWI charge in court and with the help of an experienced DWI attorney, you may be able to minimize the consequences.

DWI is a serious crime that can have severe, long-term consequences. However, it's not impossible to fight the charges against you and reduce the severity of these consequences. If you or someone you know has been charged with DWI, it's important to find a Baton Rouge DWI attorney who is experienced and aggressive to fight on your behalf.

The criminal defense attorneys at The Ambeau Law Firm have more than 30 years of combined courtroom experience and have helped dozens of people charged with a DWI fight for the best possible outcome. Call The Ambeau Law Firm today at (225) 330-7009 for a free consultation. We're here to help.