In Louisiana, the legal blood alcohol limit for most adult drivers over age 21 is .08. There are also impairment limits for other types of drugs that can render a person unable to operate a motor vehicle safely. If someone is pulled over and found to be over the impairment limit, drivers face being charged with a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge. However, an individual can also be charged with a DWI while their car is stopped in some circumstances.
Louisiana’s drunk driving laws make it a crime not only to drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but to control a vehicle in any way while impaired. Controlling a vehicle, in some cases, can include sitting in a parked vehicle while impaired but with the ability to operate the vehicle at any point.
When a Driver Risks a DWI When Their Car Is Stopped
Louisiana’s law makes it illegal not only to operate but to control a vehicle while intoxicated. This can include when the driver is located in the vehicle, when the vehicle is running but not moving, and when the driver has the vehicle’s keys in their hands. The driver’s location in the stopped vehicle matters, because being in the driver’s seat — particularly while in possession of the keys or while the engine is running — suggests control over the vehicle and the ability to begin operating it at any moment.
Where the vehicle is stopped is also an important consideration. If a person is sitting in a vehicle intoxicated in their private driveway, without having been witnessed pulling into that driveway, it is far easier in most cases to convince a jury that the driver was not operating the vehicle while their ability was impaired than if they were parked on the side of the road or in a public parking lot.
The Potential Consequences of a DWI Conviction
If an individual is convicted of DWI in Louisiana and has not had a previous DWI-related conviction in the past five years, it is considered a first offense. First-time DUIs carry a period of incarceration of at least two days and no more than six months. In many cases, this sentence is suspended and the defendant is instead sentenced to community service. Additionally, the defendant will face monetary fines of up to $1,000 plus associated court costs and a suspension of their driver’s license for up to 90 days.
The penalties increase with each subsequent DWI conviction within five years. Those convicted of a second DWI face 30 days to six months in jail and up to 240 hours of community service, along with up to $1,000 in fines. The period in which the driver’s license can be suspended is up to one year. Drivers convicted of a third DWI in 10 years can be charged with a felony and can be sentenced up to five years imprisonment, $2,000 in fines, and driver’s license revocation for two years.
All drivers convicted of DWI are also required to attend alcohol education and driver improvement courses. Refusing to submit to a field sobriety or blood alcohol test can result in a driver’s license suspension of six months.
Charged With a DWI? Contact John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm Today
Being charged with a DWI is serious, even if it’s your first offense. The team at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm is experienced and will look at every fact. Our legal team believes that fully investigating the details of the case and evaluating the evidence the prosecution has against our client is crucial when determining the appropriate defense strategy.
If you’ve been charged with a DWI, it is important to act quickly. Let our legal team help you understand your options. To schedule a consultation, contact us by calling (318) 377-1555 or by filling out our online contact form.