Louisiana DWI Laws

Louisiana Revised Statute 14:98 states the law of DWI. Driving While Intoxicated is defined as operating a motor vehicle when under the influence of alcohol, or controlled dangerous substance drugs, or, when a person’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or greater, or

  • When a person is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and a non-controlled dangerous substance, or
  • When a person is under the influence of one or more drugs which are not controlled, and which are obtainable with or without a prescription. Learn more about DWI and drugs.

If the driver of the vehicle has a blood alcohol over .15, or the next level, .20, then penalties are harsher.

The penalties are “enhanced,” or made harsher, as one goes from a first to a second, to a third, to a fourth, to a subsequent fourth offense for DWI.

At the third offense level, the DWI becomes a felony, as opposed to a misdemeanor crime, which is what DWI first and second offenses are.

Learn more about the penalties for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and subsequent-4th DWI.

Louisiana’s “Child Endangerment Law”

Child in a carseat in the backseat of a vehicle. As in other states, Louisiana treats drunk driving with a child in the car as a more serious crime that should be punished more severely. Consequently, we have the “Child Endangerment Law,” which requires harsher penalties for drivers convicted of DWI in cases where a child 12 years of age or younger is in the vehicle, whether it’s a car, boat, airplane or other type of motor vehicle. For example, certain penalties cannot be suspended in cases of DWI with child endangerment.

Learn more about penalties for DWI-related child endangerment.

DWI Cleansing Period

There is a “cleansing period” of ten years, after which a prior DWI conviction or plea in any state, including Louisiana, cannot be used against a person charged with DWI, for enhancement of charges. However, in 2008 the law was amended to extend that ten-year period by excluding all time spent between date of arrest and time spent on probation, which can extend the time period to use prior arrests for many years longer than ten years. Note that it does not matter in which state the charged person incurred the prior DWI.

There are two other instances where there are crimes involving DWI. Both are very serious:

  • The first is Vehicular Homicide, defined under Louisiana Revised Statute 14.32.1, which will be the charge when a person is determined to be intoxicated under LSA R. S. 14:98, as defined above, and in operation of a motor vehicle kills another human being. Penalties are severe.
  • The second is First Degree Negligent Injuring, defined under Louisiana Revised Statute 14:39.2, which will be the charge when a person is determined to be intoxicated under LSA R. S. 14:98, as defined above, and in operation of a motor vehicle seriously injures another human being. Penalties are severe.

Learn more about Vehicular Homicide and First Degree Negligent Injuring.

THE FOREGOING INFORMATION IN THIS SECTION IS NOT INTENDED TO COVER EVERY ASPECT OF THE LOUISIANA LAWS REGARDING DWI, BUT TO GIVE THE LAYMAN ENOUGH INFORMATION TO UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUSNESS OF A DWI CHARGE.

Video Transcript

“I’m James Bates, DWI defense attorney. A DWI criminal charge is a major problem. In this day and age, having a DWI on your record will increase your insurance premiums, probably more then my fee, and may negatively affect your job or chances of obtaining employment. It may well cause you to be sentenced to jail or prison.

My job is to do everything possible to prevent the DWI charge from having all those negative consequences. Without an experienced and well-trained DWI attorney to defend you, you are at much greater risk to suffer very unpleasant consequences.

Your best chance of preventing the charge from being on your record, or of going to jail, is to hire a lawyer that knows DWI law, and has the training and experience in DWI defense to have earned a record of success in defending DWI cases. Contact my office for an appointment. I can help you.”