Change Is Not Always For The Better

The 2014 regular Louisiana Legislative session saw several changes in the area of OWI laws.

Act 385 completely overhauled LSA-R.S. 14:98, Louisiana’s OWI defining and penalty statute. Few substantive changes were made, but the statute was reorganized ostensibly to make it easier to understand. Third degree feticide now counts as a prior offense for enhancement purposes. Effective January 1, 2015.

Act 299 requires that all OWI arrestees be fingerprinted even if released on a summons. Effective August 1, 2014.

Act 551 authorizes licensed practical nurses to perform blood draws in connection with a post-arrest OWI chemical test for blood alcohol, but only with a supporting subpoena or court order authorizing the blood seizure. Effective August 1, 2014.

Act 458 requires the suspension of driving privileges when one is arrested for OWI and pleads guilty or no contest under Code of Criminal Procedure article 894. Only after the conviction is set aside may the driver’s license be reinstated. The law previous to this Act authorized immediate driver’s license reinstatement on the front of the plea, prior to the termination of probation and conviction set aside. Effective August 1, 2014.

Act 58 extends the civil/administrative cleansing period under the Implied Consent Law from 5 to 10 years to match the criminal cleansing period of 10 years. After August 1, 2014, a refusal of submission of a chemical test resulting in a BAC of .08% or greater will be treated as a second or subsequent offense for driver’s license suspension purposes if the prior refusal/submission occurred within 10 years prior. Effective August 1, 2014.

Act 810 provides authority to allow city courts to add an additional fine of $100.00 and a lesser fine for other misdemeanor alcohol related offenses to support OWI/Sobriety Courts. Effective August 1, 2014.

Act 175 repeals the 10 year cleansing period for the crimes of vehicular homicide, vehicular negligent injuring and first degree vehicular negligent injuring. Effective August 1, 2014.

Act 280 designates vehicular homicide as a crime of violence if the driver had a BAC of .20% or greater. Effective May 28, 2014.

Act 372 requires consecutive sentences when multiple fatalities result in the crime of vehicular homicide and/or third degree feticide. Concurrent sentences are prohibited in these situations. Effective May 30, 2014.