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Is a DWI a Misdemeanor or Felony in Louisiana?

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Have you or a family member been arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Louisiana with a blood alcohol concentration between o.08-0.14 percent? A DWI arrest in Louisiana can be very scary for the person who has been arrested, and their family members. It is wise to secure representation with a Louisiana attorney who focuses on DWI charges, to assist you from start to finish with your criminal case. A First Offense DWI is misdemeanor in Louisiana.

What is A DWI?

In Louisiana the technical term for a DWI is "Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated", also known as an "OWI". While the most common forms of DWI charges are for an alcohol blood level over 0.08 percent, you can be charged with A DWI in Louisiana for being under the influence of: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, synthetic marijuana, fentanyl, opioids, psychedelics, and prescription drugs (used outside of prescriptive purposes).

First Offense DWI

Field Sobriety Test, Breathalyzer or Jail?

If you are suspected of driving a vehicle intoxicated, the police will require that you do a field sobriety test or breathalyzer. If you refuse to do the two, you will be arrested, a warrant will be issued to take your blood, and you will be taken to jail for refusing the field sobriety test or breathalyzer. The office of motor vehicles may also suspend your drivers license.

Should you perform the field sobriety test or breathalyzer? That choice is up to you. It is important to know that field sobriety test results are subjective and breathalyzers are machines—they can be faulty and produce false results. Not passing the field sobriety test or breathalyzer means that you will go to jail either way.

Conviction When the Blood Alcohol Concentration is Between 0.08-0.14 percent

Upon conviction of a first offense DWI, the offender shall be fined no less than three hundred dollars and no more than one thousand dollars. They must also go to jail not less than ten days and nor more than six months.

Can the Judge give me probation for a first offense DWI in Louisiana?

Yes, the Judge can place you on probation for a first offense DWI, instead of sending you to jail. The probation can be either unsupervised or supervised. If the Judge gives you probation for a first offense DWI, you must complete the following conditions of probation:

  1. Serve forty-eight hours in jail, or perform no less than thirty-two hours of court-approved community services activities.

    1. At least half of those thirty-two hours must be litter and trash pick-up.

  2. Participate in a court-approved substance abuse program.

    1. The Judge may also order that you go to a licensed clinician to determine if you have a diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder.

  3. Participate in a court-approved driver improvement program.

  4. The Judge may also order that you do not operated a motor vehicle unless it has a functioning ignition interlock device.

    1. The functioning ignition interlock device may be required to be installed for the entire time of your probation, or the Judge may order a shorter time.

A Misdemeanor is no Big Deal

A misdemeanor conviction for a first offense DWI is serious. A DWI conviction, even if you receive probation can be very costly and time consuming for the offender. You may have to pay

  • attorney fees;

  • court fines and fees;

  • office of motor vehicles fees, substance abuse evaluation fees, driver improvement cost fees, and other state agencies due to your first offense DWI arrest and conviction; and

  • also, the Judge may order that the misdemeanor is set aside under Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 894.

    • This means that you can be eligible for an expungement of the first offense DWI conviction, either at the completion of your sentencing or probation.

I'll just get an expungement the first offense DWI

An expungement does not make the first offense DWI conviction go away. It only hides your conviction from the public view (employers and the general public). The courts, law enforcement agencies, and professional schools (nursing school, medical school, dentistry school, etc.), and state licensing and professional boards can still see your first offense DWI conviction. If you are arrested for a second offense DWI within ten years of your first conviction (even if you received an expungement), the Judge and prosecutors will use your prior conviction against you at the time of sentencing.

Do not go at it alone! Hire an experienced Louisiana DWI Attorney

An experienced Louisiana DWI Attorney can help create a legal defense and strategy for your case. Attorney Chareese "Queen" Haile is an experienced attorney who truly fights for her clients. Need an attorney who will be there for you from the bond hearing to the end? To schedule a free DWI consultation, please click the button below.

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