If you or someone you care about has recently been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Louisiana, you might be wondering what kind of life changes to anticipate or what to do next. For first-time offenders, the idea of a DWI impacting your day-to-day can be daunting, especially if you are unaware of what to expect. Repeat offenders may find themselves wondering how their charges will be impacted by their previous convictions.
Regardless of the severity of the incident, here are some of the top ways that being charged with a DWI can negatively impact your life.
A DWI Can Hurt Your Driving Record
Depending on how much damage your DWI caused or the severity of the charge, your driving record will show your DWI for at least 5 years and possibly for life. This can prevent you from continuing to operate a motor vehicle and may result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
Some individuals who are charged with a DWI in Louisiana and have retained or reclaimed their licenses might be ordered to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle, which prevents them from starting their car without first sampling their breath. These devices may even require drivers to submit breath samples multiple times throughout a single journey to ensure they remain sober.
A DWI charge and any probation you are sentenced to will also appear on your criminal record. This information can be accessed by insurance companies as well as any job you apply for that conducts a background check. Unfortunately, DWI charges are not eligible for expungement, which wipes the charge from public information, and they will remain on your record for a minimum of ten years.
Financial Consequences of a DWI
If you have been charged with a DWI and are a first-time offender, you can expect to pay a fine ranging from between $300 and $1,000. While both first and second offenses are considered misdemeanors in Louisiana, any charges beyond that are classified as felony DWI offenses, which carry much more serious penalties.
If you are convicted of DWI in Louisiana, you may be sentenced to more than a painful fine. If you plan to keep driving, your car insurance rates may also rise drastically. Being charged with a DWI means that auto insurance companies will now see you as a liability, which may require you to seek an SR-22 insurance plan that covers high-risk drivers. Such a plan may cost you 50% or more than your current plan.
Although the existence of a DWI on a criminal record does not directly impact a credit score, many individuals find that the mounting fees and fines from court payments and increased insurance rates cause them to quickly sink into debt. If an accident occurred as a result of the DWI and the person who was charged experienced any injuries, they can expect to rack up medical bills in addition to all of their other payments, thus continuing to contribute to their overall debt.
Your DWI Can Land You in Jail
First-time offenders in Louisiana may expect to pay between $300 to $1,000 in fines, which increases to a range from $750 to $1,000 if the recorded BAC is 0.20 or higher. Additionally, it is possible for first-time offenders to face jail time with sentences ranging from anywhere between ten days and six months. With a competent DWI defense lawyer by your side, it may be possible to avoid incarceration altogether.
Occasionally, offenders convicted of misdemeanor DWI charges may qualify to enter an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. An ARD is a pretrial diversion program that places first-time alcohol offenders into an alternative system to keep them out of jail.
Repeat DWI offenders who are convicted of a subsequent DWI must serve a mandatory 48 hours in jail in addition to an increased number of hours for community service and rehabilitation programs, fines, and other potential penalties. Some DWI charges may be felonies, and a conviction may lead to a sentence of several years in state prison. Your DWI may be a felony if you have had 2 or more previous DWI charges within the last 10 years.
Experienced DWI Lawyers in Louisiana Can Help
If you have questions about DWI charges, penalties, or expungement, the John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm is here to help. Attorney Eric Johnson and his team have been helping clients create winning DWI defense strategies for over 25 years. If you want to work with a criminal defense attorney who will be dedicated to strengthening your case and protecting your rights, look no further than Johnson Law Firm.
When you’re ready to take the next step in your DWI case, contact the experts. Call (318) 377-1555 or schedule a free consultation using our contact form today.