Louisiana DUI Laws

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Louisiana DUI laws state that anyone who has a blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above can be charged with a DWI. If your BAC is higher than 0.15%, you will face enhanced penalties. Minors may not exceed 0.02% and commercial drivers may not exceed 0.04% BAC.
Each year, over 10,000 people in the US are killed on the road as a result of drunk driving crashes.
It is dangerous—and a crime—to drive while under the influence of intoxicants like alcohol and drugs. Penalties vary by state, but even a first-time offense could cost a driver up to $10,000 in legal fees and fines. Plus, a DUI can trigger a huge increase in your car insurance rates.
The car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about the DUI laws in Louisiana.
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What is a DUI?

DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence whereas DWI means driving while intoxicated or impaired. In Louisiana, the term OWI is used, which stands for operating while intoxicated.
You can be charged with an OWI for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This includes legal drugs like prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. It applies to all motor vehicles including motor vehicles, aircraft, and watercraft.
Judges may place you on supervised probation instead of giving you jail time for an OWI, but it’s their choice. However, OWIs with aggravated circumstances (such as passengers under 13 years old) are not eligible.

OWI in Louisiana

In Louisiana, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of:
  • 0.08% or higher
  • 0.04% or higher if you’re driving a commercial vehicle
  • Any detectable amount if the driver is underage
Key Takeaway There is zero tolerance for minors driving under the influence. People under the age of 21 may not carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless a parent is present and the container is unopened, full, and sealed.
Each state has an implied consent law which says that you consent to be tested if an officer suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You do not have the right to consult with a lawyer before you take the test.
If you are lawfully arrested for an OWI, you are required to submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. Louisiana drivers who refuse to be tested can be penalized with immediate license seizure and a one-year suspension for a first-offense refusal. A third chemical test refusal carries up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail.
Unless the OWI involved death or injury, Louisiana drivers may immediately apply for a hardship license once an IID (ignition interlock device) has been installed.

Penalties for an OWI in Louisiana

Louisiana OWI penalties are severe. The conviction will remain on your driving record for 10 years.

First conviction

An OWI in Louisiana (first offense) could result in these penalties:
FineUp to $1,000
Jail48 hours to six months, or 32 hours of community service
License suspensionMinimum 90 days
Ignition interlock devicePossible
Vehicle impoundmentNo
SR-22 requirementYes
With a BAC higher than 0.20%, the consequences will be more severe (i.e., a two-year license suspension). You may also be required to complete a substance abuse program and driving course. House arrest may be given instead of jail time.
If you are convicted of an underage OWI in Louisiana, you could face these consequences:
Fine$100 to $250 with no prior convictions
Jail10 days to three months
License suspension180 days
Ignition interlock devicePossible
Vehicle impoundmentNo
SR-22 requirementYes
Repeat offenses for an underage OWI may lead a judge to require IID installation, completion of a substance abuse program, and 80 hours of community service on top of six months in jail. If your BAC was higher than 0.20%, your fines will total $3,190 and you could face 45 days in prison.
Louisiana does not use a points system for driving records.

Subsequent convictions

If you are convicted of an OWI more than once, you will be subject to increased penalties. These could include bigger fines (up to $2,000), up to five years in jail, an ignition interlock device, four-year license revocation, and even forfeiture of your vehicle (on a third OWI offense).
FineUp to $2,000
JailUp to five years
License suspensionMinimum one year
Ignition interlock deviceYes
Vehicle impoundmentYes, on third offense
SR-22 requirementYes
ProbationUp to 5 years
After the suspension period, it may be possible for Louisiana drivers to obtain a hardship license which permits you to drive when necessary (i.e., to work) if you agree to:
  • Complete the prescribed OWI program
  • Install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle
  • Only drive vehicles that have an ignition interlock device
  • Pay the reissue and restriction fees to the state
Key Takeaway Minimum penalties are usually increased if you had a very high blood alcohol concentration or if you were involved in an accident where someone was injured—even for a first conviction.
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Does an OWI impact car insurance in Louisiana?

Yes, a DUI or OWI classifies you as a high-risk driver. Insurance companies pay very close attention to OWI convictions and usually charge higher premiums.
If you are struggling to find car insurance with an OWI on record, a good strategy is to shop around with multiple providers. The Jerry app has condensed the process to a 60-second form via a smartphone app. You’ll get personalized quotes from top companies—no confusing forms or judgmental salespeople.
With an OWI on record, expect substantially higher rates than your previous payment. Louisiana drivers with an OWI must find an insurance company to file an SR-22 on their behalf. This confirms that they have the state-mandated minimum insurance.

Other effects of an OWI

On top of increased insurance rates and financial penalties, you could also face the following consequences as a result of a DUI or OWI conviction:
License revocation: Your license may be revoked if you were charged with another serious offense.
Ignition interlock device: Every state has a version of the ignition interlock program. It requires drivers with a DUI or OWI conviction to install this device in their vehicle, which will disable your engine if any alcohol is detected on your breath.
Background checks: OWIs show up on background checks—and Louisiana’s statute of limitations is 10 years. If your employer pulls a check on you, they can refuse you employment because of your OWI conviction.

How to find cheap insurance after an OWI

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