One of the most common criminal charges involves the consumption of alcohol and driving a vehicle.
Driving under the influence, referred to as DUI or DWI (driving while intoxicated), is a misdemeanor in Louisiana that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a fine of up to a thousand dollars.
Our Baton Rouge team of attorneys at Pierce & Shows has experience in criminal defense, and we can help you navigate and contest a DUI charge. In this blog, we cover all that you need to know about a DUI charge in Louisiana and what to do if you are arrested and charged.
DUIs: At The Scene
It is crucial to remember that you will not be able to talk your way out of a DUI charge on the scene.
The best thing you can do is invoke your right to remain silent. There are only two pieces of information you have to give the officers:
- your name
- identifying information
Besides that, you do not need to give any other information regarding where you are going or coming from, how much you had to drink, etc. You also have the right to refuse a breath test — although this can be tricky and could end up causing more harm to your case in the long run.
Once you’ve finished at the scene, it’s best to get in touch with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.
What does the first offense of a DUI look like?
But what happens if you get convicted of a DUI?
Penalties for a first-time conviction of a DUI include include:
- Fines, fees, and court costs
- License suspension
- Change to criminal record
For first offenses, you are more than likely to be eligible for probation. Probation in Louisiana requires you to complete the follow conditions:
- 32 hours of community service hours (1/2 of which are litter detail)
- a MADD Victims Impact course
- a Substance Abuse Evaluation and treatment recommendations
- a DWI Driver Improvement course
After you are released on bond, you will have thirty days from the date of the arrest to request an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. These can be extremely complex, and it’s best to hire an experienced Louisiana attorney before the hearing.
Later on, you may be able to get the conviction removed from your record through expungement if you can complete these conditions. The expungement does not destroy your record but seals it, leaving access only to law enforcement and certain agencies and licensing boards.
Second DUI Offense is Still a Misdemeanor
After a first DUI charge, the consequences for additional DUI charges become greater and even more difficult to contest. The second offense is still considered a misdemeanor, but the consequences in Louisiana become greater. These can include:
- Thirty days to six months in jail and 48 hours of serving the sentence
- A fine between $750 – $1000
- 240 hours of community service
- Participation in a driver improvement program
- Substance abuse evaluation and/or treatment
All of the above depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.
DUI Third Offense and Beyond are Felonies
When you hit the third offense of a DUI, you enter into the felony territory, and consequences become harsher. In Louisiana, these can include:
- One to five years behind bars
- Fine of $2000
- Suspension of driver’s license for 36 months
- Probation for up to five years
Contact Pierce & Shows Today
One of the essential things you should do if you are accused of a DUI in Louisiana is to contact a criminal defense attorney. These cases are extremely difficult to contest, and having an experienced defense attorney who will fight for your rights is invaluable. Our attorneys at Pierce & Shows have combined over fifty years of experience to help defend your rights. For more information, contact Pierce & Shows today.