Louisiana drivers who choose to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs not only put other drivers at risk but can also face serious legal consequences. The legal ramifications of a driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction in Louisiana can include criminal penalties, such as jail time and license suspensions. In addition, drivers could face civil penalties in the form of a personal injury lawsuit against them if they hurt someone.
By explaining DUI and DWI in Louisiana, we hope all drivers throughout the state will understand their rights and the legal consequences of driving under the influence or while intoxicated. For DUI or DWI accident victims, a personal injury lawyer could help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
The Difference Between DUI and DWI in Louisiana
DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence and can refer to both alcohol and other drugs regarding impairment while operating a motor vehicle. The term generally refers to the driver’s behavior and is the primary term used by some states for charges associated with drunk driving.
In Louisiana, the primary term for charges related to drunk driving brought under La. R.S. § 14:98 is DWI or driving while intoxicated or impaired. DWI can refer to alcohol and other substances, and it commonly involves a driver having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.
Both terms (DUI and DWI) are often used interchangeably to refer to drunk driving. Those accused of or charged with DUI or DWI in Louisiana face serious criminal and possibly civil consequences.
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DWI in Louisiana Can Lead to Both Criminal Charges and Negligence Lawsuits
Louisiana uses a system of enhancements for criminal DWI charges that increases the severity of penalties for each subsequent DWI offense. In addition, any time a driver injures another person when driving while intoxicated, they may be liable under Louisiana personal injury laws and required to pay the injured party compensation for their losses.
However, it’s important to note that filing an injury claim or lawsuit does not depend on the state filing criminal charges. So, if you sustained injuries in an accident caused by someone driving while intoxicated, you could bring a claim for compensation even if no criminal charges are filed.
Victims of Accidents Involving DWI and Civil Injury Claims
In most cases, as a victim of a DUI or DWI collision in Louisiana, you will likely qualify for a broader range of damages and more compensation with a personal injury claim than what you may receive in restitution from a criminal conviction.
For Louisiana drivers injured by someone driving while intoxicated, the law allows you to seek compensation for damages, including possible punitive damages to serve as financial punishment to the defendant for particularly egregious behavior. You will need to file an insurance claim or lawsuit to assert your right to this compensation.
Possible Consequences for a First DWI Offense
Although first DWI offenses are misdemeanor charges in Louisiana, they still carry serious penalties. Further, a first DWI is still dangerous and puts other drivers in danger of getting hurt in the event of an accident. According to La. R.S. § 14:98.1, the possible penalties for a first DWI offense include:
- A fine ranging from $300 up to $1,000
- Jail time ranging from 10 days to six months
- A driver’s license suspension of one year
- Probation with the requirements of 48 hours in jail or 32 hours of community service, participation in a substance abuse program, and participation in a driver improvement program
In cases where the driver’s BAC was over 0.20 percent, stricter penalties apply, including using an ignition interlock device after license reinstatement.
Possible Enhanced Penalties for a Second DWI Offense
According to La. R.S. § 14:98.2, the possible penalties for a second DWI offense (also a misdemeanor) include:
- A fine of $750 to $1,000
- Jail time ranging from 30 days to six months
- A driver’s license suspension of up to two years
- Probation with the requirements of 15 days in jail or 240 hours of community service, and completion of a substance abuse program and driver improvement program
Additional penalties and charges apply when the driver’s BAC was over 0.20 percent and in cases where the DWI offense causes severe injury or death.
A Third or Fourth DWI Offense Carries Significant Penalties
A third or fourth DWI offense is a felony in Louisiana, and according to La. R.S. § 14:98.3 and 14:98.4, possible penalties include:
- A fine of $2,000 for a third offense and $5,000 for a fourth
- One to five years in jail for a third offense and 10 to 30 years in prison for a fourth
- Up to five years of probation, including community service and re-education programs
- Vehicle forfeiture
- Ignition interlock
- License suspension
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Morris Bart, LLC, Can Help If You Suffered Injuries From a DWI Crash in Louisiana
At Morris Bart, LLC, our injury lawyers are here to help Louisiana DWI or DUI crash victims hold the responsible party accountable. We can help you build a claim for recovery to cover all your losses that result from the crash.
Call us at (800) 537-8185 for more information on how we can help.
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