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Criminal defense: Consequences for driving while intoxicated

As most people know, driving while intoxicated is illegal in the state of Louisiana, just as it is in every other state. Those who are caught doing so may face some severe consequences. This week, this column will address what those consequences are and what one may do, with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to minimize them.

DWI laws exist to keep the general public safe. Anyone found driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will most likely be arrested and charged. The severity of the charges filed and their associated consequences if one is convicted depend on a number of factors.

A person is said to be driving under the influence of alcohol if his or her blood alcohol percentage is at .08% or higher, or if he or she is operating a vehicle after consuming any other controlled substance, whether legal or illegal in nature. One's BAC or drug use will be determined by chemical or blood testing. Chemical testing may be done roadside if one complies, or any type of sobriety testing may be done at a police station or local hospital with a warrant.

The consequences for DWI depend on one's criminal record. A first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and incarceration of up to six months unless one's BAC was higher than .20%. If this is the case, a two-year license suspension will be put in place, and one will have to install an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle.

A second offense is also punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and incarceration of up to six months. If the BAC was higher than .20%, one's license could be suspended for four years. Finally, for a third offense, a fine of $2,000 will be imposed, and one may be imprisoned for up to five years.

When it comes to driving while intoxicated, one might be able to fight the charges and achieve a case dismissal, or take steps to seek to reduce charges and their associated consequences. If convicted for DWI in Louisiana, sentences may be suspended if one is willing to take part in rehabilitation programs, community service or driving programs, and equip his or her vehicle with an ignition interlock device. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review one's case and help one fight for the best possible outcome.

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