OWI Arrests

In Louisiana, an arrest for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol ("DWI") is defined by law as an "OWI" for operating while intoxicated.  The expanded definition under our law extends to the physical control of motor vehicles, watercraft and other means of conveyance.  For your purposes, the terms DWI and OWI are synonymous. 

If you have been arrested for the offense, you should seek competent legal advice immediately due to the potentially serious and far reaching implications of the arrest.  Assuming that you will simply be able to plead guilty and seek the mercy of the court can be dangerous; in many courts even first offenders face jail.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR OWI/DWI YOU ONLY HAVE FIFTEEN (30) DAYS FROM THE DATE OF ARREST TO REQUEST A HEARING FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS. IF A HEARING IS NOT REQUESTED WITHIN THIS TIME PERIOD YOUR LICENSE WILL BE SUSPENDED!!

We understand that you may be feeling depressed, confused, and humiliated after an arrest. You cannot believe that something like this happened to you and there are so many things that have been affected and could be affected by a DWI conviction. You have too much to lose and need an attorney with knowledge and experience to help you through these difficult times and the complications caused by the arrest.

 

The members of this firm have dedicated much of their careers to defending individuals arrested for DWI and have helped countless people that were in a situation similar to yours to get their life back on track. We have the resources to assist you in all aspects of your DWI defense and the knowledge obtained from attending specialized OWI/DWI conferences and over 30 years combined legal experience.

 

 

PROBLEMS AS A RESULT OF OWI CONVICTIONS

 

Besides the obvious ways that an OWI conviction can affect your life (possible incarceration, ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, loss of driver’s license, and financial hardship), an OWI conviction may also affect your employment opportunities and motor vehicle insurance.

 

I) Employment

 

a) Many potential employers will not hire you if you have an OWI conviction on your record and some companies will examine your entire driving history when checking an employee’s or applicant’s background.

 

b) If you are currently employed and are convicted of an OWI, your employment could be terminated or suspended if it involves operating a company vehicle or operating a motor vehicle under the company’s motor vehicle insurance policy.

 

II) Motor Vehicle Insurance

 

a) Automobile insurance for an individual with an OWI conviction may be challenged. Many insurance carriers will decline or terminate coverage for someone that has been convicted of an OWI.

 

b) If you are convicted of an OWI and your license is suspended by the State of Louisiana, Division of Administrative Law, you may need to obtain an SR-22 High Risk Insurance Policy in order to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Louisiana.

 

PENALTIES FOR OWI CONVICTIONS

 

FIRST OFFENSE

On a first conviction, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the offender shall be fined not less than three hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, and shall be imprisoned for not less than ten days nor more than six months. Imposition or execution of sentence shall not be suspended unless:

a) The offender is placed on probation with a minimum condition that he serve two days in jail and participate in a court-approved substance abuse program and participate in a court-approved driver improvement program; or

b) The offender is placed on probation with a minimum condition that he perform four eight-hour days of court-approved community service activities, at least half of which shall consist of participation in a litter abatement or collection program, participate in a court-approved substance abuse program, and participate in a court-approved driver improvement program. An offender, who participates in a litter abatement or collection program pursuant to this subparagraph, shall have no cause of action for damages against the entity conducting the program or supervising his participation therein, including a municipality, parish, sheriff, or other entity, nor against any official, employee, or agent of such entity, for any injury or loss suffered by him during or arising out of his participation in the program, if such injury or loss is a direct result of the lack of supervision or act or omission of the supervisor, unless the injury or loss was caused by the intentional or grossly negligent act or omission of the entity or its official, employee, or agent.

2.a) If the offender had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood, at least forty-eight hours of the sentence imposed pursuant to Paragraph (B)(1) of this Subsection shall be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Imposition or execution of the remainder of the sentence shall not be suspended unless the offender complies with Subparagraph (B)(1)(a) or (b) of this Subsection.

b) If the offender had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood, the offender shall be fined not less than seven hundred fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars and at least forty-eight hours of the sentence imposed pursuant to Paragraph (B)(1) of this Subsection shall be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Imposition or execution of the remainder of the sentence shall not be suspended unless the offender complies with Subparagraph (B)(1)(a) or (b) of this Subsection.

 

SECOND OFFENSE

On a conviction of a second offense, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, except as provided in Paragraph (3) of this Subsection, regardless of whether the second offense occurred before or after the first conviction, the offender shall be fined not less than seven hundred fifty dollars, nor more than one thousand dollars, and shall be imprisoned for not less than thirty days nor more than six months. At least forty-eight hours of the sentence imposed shall be served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Nothing herein shall prohibit a court from sentencing a defendant to home incarceration, if otherwise allowed under the provisions of Article 894.2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Imposition or execution of the remainder of the sentence shall not be suspended unless:

a) The offender is placed on probation with a minimum condition that he serve fifteen days in jail and participate in a court-approved substance abuse program and participate in a court-approved driver improvement program; or

b) The offender is placed on probation with a minimum condition that he perform thirty eight-hour days of court-approved community service activities, at least half of which shall consist of participation in a litter abatement or collection program, and participate in a court-approved substance abuse program, and participate in a court-approved driver improvement program. An offender, who participates in a litter abatement or collection program pursuant to this Subparagraph, shall have no cause of action for damages against the entity conducting the program or supervising his participation therein, including a municipality, parish, sheriff, or other entity, nor against any official, employee, or agent of such entity, for any injury or loss suffered by him during or arising out of his participation therein, if such injury or loss is a direct result of the lack of supervision or act or omission of the supervisor, unless the injury or loss was caused by the intentional or grossly negligent act or omission of the entity or its official, employee, or agent.

2.a) If the offender had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood, at least ninety-six hours of the sentence imposed pursuant to Paragraph (1) of this Subsection shall be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Imposition or execution of the remainder of the sentence shall not be suspended unless the offender complies with Subparagraph (1)(a) or (b) of this Subsection.

b) If the offender had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood, the offender shall be fined one thousand dollars and at least ninety-six hours of the sentence imposed pursuant to Paragraph (1) of this Subsection shall be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Imposition or execution of the remainder of the sentence shall not be suspended unless the offender complies with Subparagraph (1)(a) or (b) of this Subsection.

3) Notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraph (1) of this Subsection, on a conviction of a second offense when the first offense was for the crime of vehicular homicide in violation of R.S. 14:32.1, or first degree vehicular negligent injuring in violation of R.S. 14:39.2, the offender shall be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than one year nor more than five years, and shall be fined two thousand dollars. At least six months of the sentence of imprisonment imposed shall be without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Imposition or execution of the remainder of the sentence shall not be suspended unless the provisions of Subparagraph (1)(a) or (b) of this Subsection are complied with.

 

THIRD OFFENSE

On a conviction of a third offense, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and regardless of whether the offense occurred before or after an earlier conviction, the offender shall be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than one year nor more than five years and shall be fined two thousand dollars. Thirty days of the sentence of imprisonment shall be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The court, in its discretion, may suspend all or any part of the remainder of the sentence of imprisonment. If any portion of the sentence is suspended, the offender shall be placed on supervised probation with the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, division of probation and parole, for a period of time equal to the remainder of the sentence of imprisonment, which probation shall commence on the day after the offender's release from custody.

b) Any offender placed on probation pursuant to the provisions of Subsection D of this Section shall be required as a condition of probation to submit to and complete either of the following requirements:

i) To immediately undergo an evaluation by the Department of Health and Hospitals, office for addictive disorders to determine the nature and extent of the offender's substance abuse disorder and to participate in any treatment plan recommended by the office for addictive disorders, including treatment in an inpatient facility approved by the office for a period of not less than four weeks followed by outpatient treatment services for a period not to exceed twelve months.

ii) To participate in substance abuse treatment in an alcohol and drug abuse program provided by a drug division subject to the applicable provisions of R.S. 13:5301 et seq. if the offender is otherwise eligible to participate in such program.

c) In addition to the requirements set forth in Subparagraph (b) of this Paragraph, any offender placed on probation pursuant to the provisions of Subsection D of this Section shall be placed in a home incarceration program approved by the division of probation and parole for a period of time not less than six months and not more than the remainder of the sentence of imprisonment.

d) If any offender placed on probation pursuant to the provisions of Subsection D of this Section fails to complete the substance abuse treatment required by the provisions of this Paragraph or violates any other condition of probation, including conditions of home incarceration, his probation may be revoked, and he may be ordered to serve the balance of the sentence of imprisonment, without credit for time served under home incarceration.

2.a) In addition, the court shall order that the vehicle being driven by the offender at the time of the offense shall be seized and impounded, and sold at auction in the same manner and under the same conditions as executions of writ of seizures and sale as provided in Book V, Title II, Chapter 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

b) The vehicle shall be exempt from sale if it was stolen, or if the driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation was not the owner and the owner did not know that the driver was operating the vehicle while intoxicated. If this exemption is applicable, the vehicle shall not be released from impoundment until such time as towing and storage fees have been paid.

c) In addition, the vehicle shall be exempt from sale if all towing and storage fees are paid by a valid lienholder.

d) The proceeds of the sale shall first be used to pay court costs and towing and storage costs, and the remainder shall be forwarded to the Council on Automobile Insurance Rates and Enforcement for its use in studying other ways to reduce drunk driving and insurance rates.

3.a) An offender sentenced to home incarceration during probation shall be subject to special conditions to be determined by the court, which shall include but not be limited to the following:

i) Electronic monitoring.

ii) Curfew restrictions.

iii) Home visitation at least once per month by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections for the first six months. After the first six months, the level of supervision will be determined by the department based upon a risk assessment instrument.

b) The court shall also require the offender to obtain employment and to participate in a court-approved driver improvement program at his expense. The activities of the offender outside of his home shall be limited to traveling to and from work, church services, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or a court-approved driver improvement program.

c) Offenders sentenced to home incarceration required under the provisions of this Section shall be subject to all other applicable provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure Article 894.2.

 

FOURTH OR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE

Except as otherwise provided in Subparagraph (4)(b) of this Subsection, on a conviction of a fourth or subsequent offense, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and regardless of whether the fourth offense occurred before or after an earlier conviction, the offender shall be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than ten years nor more than thirty years and shall be fined five thousand dollars. Sixty days of the sentence of imprisonment shall be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The court, in its discretion, may suspend all or any part of the remainder of the sentence of imprisonment. If any portion of the sentence is suspended, the offender shall be placed on supervised probation with the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, division of probation and parole, for a period of time not to exceed five years, which probation shall commence on the day after the offender's release from custody.

b) Any offender placed on probation pursuant to the provisions of Subsection E of this Section shall be required, as a condition of probation, to submit to and complete either of the following requirements:

i) To immediately undergo an evaluation by the Department of Health and Hospitals, office for addictive disorders to determine the nature and extent of the offender's substance abuse disorder and to participate in any treatment plan recommended by the office for addictive disorders, including treatment in an inpatient facility approved by the office for a period of not less than four weeks followed by outpatient treatment services for a period not to exceed twelve months.

ii) To participate in substance abuse treatment in an alcohol and drug abuse program provided by a drug division subject to the applicable provisions of R.S. 13:5301 et seq. if the offender is otherwise eligible to participate in such program.

c) In addition to the requirements set forth in Subparagraph (b) of this Paragraph, any offender placed on probation pursuant to the provisions of Subsection E of this Section shall be placed in a home incarceration program approved by the division of probation and parole for a period of time not less than one year nor more than the remainder of the term of supervised probation.

d) If any offender placed on probation pursuant to the provisions of Subsection E of this Section fails to complete the substance abuse treatment required by the provisions of this Paragraph or violates any other condition of probation, including conditions of home incarceration, his probation may be revoked, and he may be ordered to serve the balance of the sentence of imprisonment, without credit for time served under home incarceration.

2.a) In addition, the court shall order that the vehicle being driven by the offender at the time of the offense be seized and impounded, and be sold at auction in the same manner and under the same conditions as executions of writ of seizure and sale as provided in Book V, Title II, Chapter 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

b) The vehicle shall be exempt from sale if it was stolen, or if the driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation was not the owner and the owner did not know that the driver was operating the vehicle while intoxicated. If this exemption is applicable, the vehicle shall not be released from impoundment until such time as towing and storage fees have been paid.

c) In addition, the vehicle shall be exempt from sale if all towing and storage fees are paid by a valid lienholder.

d) The proceeds of the sale shall first be used to pay court costs and towing and storage costs, and the remainder shall be forwarded to the Council on Automobile Insurance Rates and Enforcement for its use in studying other ways to reduce drunk driving and insurance rates.

3.a) An offender sentenced to home incarceration during probation shall be subject to special conditions to be determined by the court, which shall include but not be limited to the following:

i) Electronic monitoring.

ii) Curfew restrictions.

iii) Home visitation at least once per month by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections for the first six months. After the first six months, the level of supervision will be determined by the department based upon a risk assessment instrument.

b) The court shall also require the offender to obtain employment and to participate in a court-approved driver improvement program at his expense. The activities of the offender outside of his home shall be limited to traveling to and from work, church services, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or a court-approved driver improvement program.

c) Offenders sentenced to home incarceration required under the provisions of this Section shall be subject to all other applicable provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure Article 894.2.

4.a) If the offender has previously been required to participate in substance abuse treatment and home incarceration pursuant to Subsection D of this Section, the offender shall not be sentenced to substance abuse treatment and home incarceration for a fourth or subsequent offense, but shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not less than ten nor more than thirty years, and at least three years of the sentence shall be imposed without benefit of suspension of sentence, probation, or parole.

b) If the offender has previously received the benefit of suspension of sentence, probation, or parole as a fourth offender, no part of the sentence may be imposed with benefit of suspension of sentence, probation, or parole, and no portion of the sentence shall be imposed concurrently with the remaining balance of any sentence to be served for a prior conviction for any offense.

F.(1) For purposes of determining whether a defendant has a prior conviction for violation of this Section, a conviction under either R.S. 14:32.1, vehicular homicide, R.S. 14:39.1, vehicular negligent injuring, or R.S. 14:39.2, first degree vehicular negligent injuring, or a conviction under the laws of any state or an ordinance of a municipality, town, or similar political subdivision of another state, which prohibits the operation of any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance while intoxicated, while impaired, or while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any controlled dangerous substance shall constitute a prior conviction. This determination shall be made by the court as a matter of law.

(2) For purposes of this Section, a prior conviction shall not include a conviction for an offense under this Section or R.S. 14:32.1 or R.S. 14:39.1 or under a comparable statute or ordinance of another jurisdiction, as described in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection, if committed more than ten years prior to the commission of the crime for which the defendant is being tried and such conviction shall not be considered in the assessment of penalties hereunder. However, periods of time during which the offender was incarcerated in a penal institution in this or any other state shall be excluded in computing the ten-year period. Subsections B and C shall include a screening procedure to determine the portions of the program which may be applicable and appropriate for individual offenders.

G. The legislature hereby finds and declares that conviction of a third or subsequent DWI offense is presumptive evidence of the existence of a substance abuse disorder in the offender posing a serious threat to the health and safety of the public. Further, the legislature finds that there are successful treatment methods available for treatment of addictive disorders. Court-approved substance abuse programs provided for in Subsections B, C, and D of this Section shall include a screening procedure to determine the portions of the program which may be applicable and appropriate for individual offenders and shall assess the offender's degree of alcohol abuse.

H. "Community service activities" as used in this Section may include duty in any morgue, coroner's office, or emergency treatment room of a state-operated hospital or other state-operated emergency treatment facility, with the consent of the administrator of the morgue, coroner's office, hospital, or facility.

I. An offender ordered to participate in a substance abuse program in accordance with the provisions of this Section shall pay the cost incurred in participating in the program. Failure to make such payment shall subject the offender to revocation of probation, unless the court determines that the offender is unable to pay. If the court determines that the offender is unable to pay, the state shall pay for the cost of the substance abuse treatment. An offender sentenced to home incarceration and to participate in a driver improvement program shall pay the cost incurred in participating in home incarceration and a driver improvement program unless the court determines that the offender is unable to pay. However, if the court determines that an offender is unable to pay the costs incurred for participating in a substance abuse treatment program, driver improvement program, or home incarceration, the court may, upon completion of such program or home incarceration, require that the offender reimburse the state for all or a portion of such costs pursuant to a payment schedule determined by the court.

J. This Subsection shall be cited as the "Child Endangerment Law". When the state proves in addition to the elements of the crime as set forth in Subsection A of this Section that a minor child twelve years of age or younger was a passenger in the motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of motorized conveyance at the time of the commission of the offense, of the sentence imposed by the court, the execution of the minimum mandatory sentence provided by Subsection B or C of this Section, as appropriate, shall not be suspended. If imprisonment is imposed pursuant to the provisions of Subsection D, the execution of the minimum mandatory sentence shall not be suspended. If imprisonment is imposed pursuant to the provisions of Subsection E, at least two years of the sentence shall be imposed without benefit of suspension of sentence.

K.(1) In addition to any penalties imposed under this Section, upon conviction of a first offense if the offender had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood the driver's license of the offender shall be suspended for two years. Such offender may apply for a restricted license to be in effect during the entire period of suspension upon proof to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections that his motor vehicle has been equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device in compliance with the requirements of R.S. 32:378.2. The ignition interlock device shall remain installed and operative on his vehicle during the first twelve-month period of suspension of his driver's license following the date of conviction.

(2)(a) In addition to any penalties imposed under this Section, upon conviction of a second offense, any vehicle, while being operated by the offender, shall be equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device in accordance with the provisions of R.S. 15:306. This requirement shall remain in effect for a period of not less than six months. In addition, the device shall remain installed and operative during any period that the offender's operator's license is suspended under law and for any additional period as determined by the court.

(b) In addition to any penalties imposed under this Section and notwithstanding the provisions of Subparagraph (2)(a) of this Subsection, upon conviction of a second offense if the offender had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood, the driver's license of the offender shall be suspended for four years. The offender may apply for a restricted license to be in effect during the period of suspension upon proof to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections that his motor vehicle has been equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device in compliance with the requirements of R.S. 32:378.2. The ignition interlock device shall remain installed and operative on his vehicle during the first three years of the four-year period of the suspension of his driver's license.

(3)(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraph (1) of this Subsection and R.S. 32:414(D)(1)(b), upon conviction of a third or subsequent offense of the provisions of this Section, any motor vehicle, while being operated by the offender, shall be equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device in accordance with the provisions of R.S. 15:306. The ignition interlock device shall remain installed and operative until the offender has completed the requirements of substance abuse treatment and home incarceration under the provisions of Subsections D and E of this Section.

(b) Any offender convicted of a third or subsequent offense of the provisions of this Section shall, after one year of the suspension required by R.S. 32:414(D)(1)(a), upon proof of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections that the motor vehicles being operated by the offender are equipped with functioning interlock devices, be issued a restricted driver's license. The restricted license shall be effective for the period of time that the offender's driver's license is suspended. The restricted license shall entitle the offender to operate the vehicles equipped with a functioning interlock device in order to earn a livelihood and to travel to and from the places designated in Paragraphs (D)(3) and (E)(3) of this Section.

(4) The provisions of this Subsection shall not require installation of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle described in R.S. 32:378.2(I).