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DWI/DUI Charges & Penalties

When arrested for a DWI or DUI, you may feel frightened, confused, and worried regarding how your charges will impact your future. Our clients facing DWI or DUI charges often ask us what the possible consequences are for a conviction. We have listed below the potential sentences for the major categories of a DWI or DUI offense. In all cases, our attorneys strive to dismiss or reduce your charges, lessening or eliminating the consequences.

If you have been charged with a DWI or DUI, you are facing serious, life-altering consequences, including large fines, loss of your driver’s license, and even imprisonment. Let us help you. Contact an experienced New Orleans DUI attorney at Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias to discuss how we can minimize or avoid the penalties of your DWI/DUI charge.

First Offense DWI/DUI Conviction

  • Incarceration for 10 days, at minimum, to six months, at maximum
    • The sentence may be reduced to two days if you are placed on probation and participate in a court-approved substance abuse program and a driver improvement program
    • The sentence may be suspended completely if you perform four 8-hour days of community service (two of these days will consist of litter abatement) and participate in both a court-approved substance abuse program and a driver improvement program
    • There is a mandatory two-day sentence if your blood alcohol content registered at .15 or higher.
  • Suspension of your driver’s license:
    • If you voluntarily submitted to a chemical test:
      • 90 days, and you will not be eligible for hardship license for the first 30 days
      • 180 days if you are under the age of 21
      • Two years if your blood alcohol content was measured at above .2 percent
    • A hardship license may be granted in many situations by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections while your license is suspended. However, if a fatality occurred or if a person was seriously injured as a result of an accident in which your DWI/DUI was a contributing cause, you will generally not be eligible for a hardship license.
  • Fines:
    • $300-$1,000 if your blood alcohol content was under .2 percent
    • $750-$1,000 if .2 percent or greater blood alcohol concentration
    • The fines above do not include court costs, costs of any probation or compliance program, and other associated legal fees

Second Offense DWI/DUI Conviction

  • Incarceration:
    • 30 days, at minimum, to six months, at maximum
      • Mandatory two-day sentence, at minimum
      • The sentence may be reduced to 15 days if you are placed on probation and participate in a court-approved substance abuse program and a driver improvement program
      • The sentence may be reduced to two days if you perform 30 eight-hour days of community service (15 days consist of litter abatement) and also participate in a court-approved substance abuse program and a driver improvement program
      • If you were found to have had a blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent or more, there is a mandatory four-day sentence
  • Driver’s license suspension:
    • If you voluntarily submitted to a chemical test:
      • One year, during which you will not be eligible for a hardship license
      • 180 days if you are under the age of 21
      • Four years if your blood alcohol content was above .2 percent
      • You will be required to have an ignition interlock device in your car for a mandatory three years
    • If you refused to submit to a chemical test:
      • One year if this is the first refusal
      • Two years if this is the second refusal within five years of the first
    • You may be granted a hardship license in many situations if you agree to install a functioning ignition interlock device approved by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections while your license is suspended. However, if your DWI/DUI contributed to an accident causing a fatality of the serious bodily injury of another person, you will generally not be permitted to get a hardship license.
  • Fines:
    • $750-$1,000 if your blood alcohol content was under .2 percent
    • $1,000 if .2 percent or greater blood alcohol concentration
    • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for six months, which must remain installed and operating during the suspended sentence
    • These fines do not include court costs and other associated legal fees

Third Offense DWI/DUI Conviction

  • Incarceration:
    • One year, at minimum, to five years, at maximum (with or without hard labor)
    • Mandatory one-year sentence without probation, parole, or suspension of the sentence
    • The court may suspend a portion of the sentence beyond the one-year minimum if you are placed on probation for the same amount of time and participate in 30 eight-hour days of community service. You must also:
      • Undergo an immediate evaluation to determine the nature and extent of a substance abuse disorder; participate in a treatment program, including inpatient treatment for at least four weeks followed by outpatient treatment of 12 months at most; or participate in substance abuse treatment in an alcohol and drug abuse program provided by an approved provider
      • Serve at least six months up to the remainder of the sentence in home incarceration. This requires:
        • Electronic monitoring, curfew restrictions, and home visitation by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections for the first six months
        • You attain employment and participate in a court-appointed driver improvement program
  • Driver’s license suspension:
    • If you submitted to a chemical test:
      • One year, without being eligible for a hardship license
      • 180 days if you are under age 21
      • Four years if your blood alcohol content was above .20 percent, with a mandatory three years of ignition interlock device installation
    • If you refused to submit to a chemical test:
      • One year if this is your first refusal
      • Two years if this is your second or subsequent refusal within five years of the first
    • You may be able to get a restricted license in many situations if you agree to the installation of a functioning ignition interlock device approved by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections for the period of suspension. You will not be eligible for a hardship license if a fatality or injury occurred as a result of an accident caused in part by your DWI/DUI.
  • Fines:
    • $2,000, which does not include court costs and other associated legal fees
    • In addition, the court may order that your vehicle be seized, impounded, and sold at auction to pay the court costs, and towing and storage fees. The rest will then be paid to the arresting agency, the district attorney, and an organization studying how to reduce drunk driving and insurance rates.
    • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device until your substance abuse treatment and home incarceration are completed

Fourth Offense DWI/DUI Conviction

  • Incarceration:
    • Minimum of 10 years to a maximum of 30 years, with or without hard labor
    • Mandatory minimum of two years without the possibility of probation, parole, or suspension of your sentence
    • The court may suspend any additional portion of the sentence beyond the two-year minimum if you are placed on probation for the same amount of time, not more than five years, and participate in 40 eight-hour days of community service
    • You must also:
      • Undergo an evaluation to determine the nature and extend of any substance abuse disorder and to participate in any treatment plan recommended by the evaluation, including inpatient treatment for a period of at least four weeks followed by outpatient treatment of 12 months at most or participate in a substance abuse treatment program
      • Serve one year to the remainder of the sentence in home incarceration, which requires:
        • Electronic monitoring, curfew restrictions, and home visitation by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections for the first six months
        • Obtain employment and participate in a court-appointed driver improvement program
  • Driver’s license suspension:
    • If you submitted to a chemical test:
      • One year suspension, without eligibility for a hardship license
      • 180 day suspension if under age 21
      • Four year suspension if the blood alcohol content is above .2 percent
      • Mandatory three years of ignition interlock device installation
    • If you refused to submit to a chemical test:
      • One year if this is your first refusal
      • Two years if this is your second or subsequent refusal within five years of the first
    • You may be allowed to get a restricted license in many situations if you agree to install an ignition interlock device during the suspension of your license. This device must be approved by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. You will not be eligible for a hardship license if your DWI/DUI is found to have caused an accident where another person was injured or killed.
  • Fines:
    • $5,000, not including court costs and other associated legal fees
    • The court may order your vehicle to be seized, impounded, and sold at auction to pay court costs and towing and storage fees. The remainder will then be paid to the district attorney, arresting agency, and an organization that studies how to reduce drunk driving and high insurance costs.
    • You must install an gnition interlock device until after your substance abuse treatment and home incarceration are completed

Bail & Other Consequences:

If you are arrested and charged with a DWI, DUI, or other alcohol-related offense, you will have to go through bail determination. In most cases, bail typically involves paying a fee or bond to the court. With more serious offenses, however, bail may also include installing an ignition interlock system into your vehicle or begin an alcohol monitoring system or SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring). An ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle measures your blood alcohol concentration. With this  device, you will not be able to start your vehicle unless your BAC is lower than the legal limit. The SCRAM bracelet is worn for the entire day. It monitors your location via GPS and monitors your alcohol intake. Because the bracelet detects even small amounts of alcohol, clients may have to go to extreme lengths to comply: changing mouthwash, shampoo, hand sanitizer, and soaps to eliminate trace amounts of alcohol.

SCRAM bracelets are frequently ordered in the case of repeated offenses or first-time offenses that involved more serious circumstances, such as injury to someone else or a very high BAC. The bracelets are used to monitor the offender and assess whether or not they are dependent on alcohol. This assessment is then used to recommend certain treatment.

Ignition interlock systems and SCRAM are ordered by the court at the expense of the defendant. Many people facing these consequences of a DWI/DUI arrest find them not only embarrassing but financially burdensome; however, ignition interlock systems and SCRAM bracelets are becoming more common in Louisiana courts.