Louisiana Third-Offense OWI/DWI

Fines, jail, and license-related penalties resulting from a third-offense OWI in Louisiana.

Louisiana’s OWI (operating under the influence) laws prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle, aircraft, or watercraft:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater,
  • while “under the influence” of alcohol or any controlled substance, or
  • while under the influence of alcohol and an over-the-counter or a prescription drug.

An OWI is considered a third offense if the driver has two prior OWI convictions that occurred within the past ten years. Also, some serious driving-related offense like vehicular homicide and vehicular negligent injury can act as a prior offense and increase the possible penalties for an OWI conviction.

Criminal Penalties

A third-offense OWI is a felony, punishable by one to five years in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Probation. The court can suspend part of the jail sentence by placing the convicted person on probation for up to five years. But probation is not available to drivers who caused an injury accident or had a passenger under 13 years old when they committed their offense. Offenders who are granted probation must:

  • serve one year in jail or complete the drug division probation program
  • complete 240 hours of community service
  • maintain gainful employment while on probation
  • complete a driver improvement program
  • complete four weeks of inpatient substance abuse treatment, and
  • complete up to 12 months of outpatient substance abuse treatment.

Forfeiture. The judge can order the vehicle used in the commission of the OWI to be seized by the state. A vehicle owner who was not the offending driver can contest the forfeiture.

Driver’s License Suspension

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated can lead to several different license suspensions. However, drivers receiving more than one suspension are typically allowed to serve the suspensions concurrently—meaning, the suspensions will overlap.

Conviction. The court reports all third-offense OWI convictions to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The DPS will then suspend the driver’s license for 36 months. However, the driver is normally eligible for reinstatement after installing an ignition interlock device (IID).

Test failure. If a driver is caught with a BAC of .08% or more, the arresting officer is supposed to seize the driver’s license and issue a 30-day temporary license. (Drivers who want to fight the suspension must file a notice with the DPS within 30 days of the arrest.) The motorist then faces a 90-day suspension but can apply for a hardship license after 30 days. But if the driver has a prior test failure that occurred within the last five years, the suspension is 365 days, and the driver isn’t eligible for a hardship license.

Test refusal. Louisiana’s “implied consent” laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for operating under the influence to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. A third unlawful refusal can result in $300 to $1,000 in fines, ten days to six months in jail, and a two-year license suspension. The offender might be able to avoid some jail with probation. However, offenders who get probation must serve 48 hours in jail, complete 32 hours of community service, and complete a driver improvement program.

Hardship license. After 30 days of suspension, an offender can normally apply for a hardship license. A hardship license authorizes the holder to drive to and from work, school, and home with the use of an IID. However, a hardship license is not available in cases that involve injuries or deaths.

Excessive BAC. Drivers who had a BAC of .20% or more will be looking at a four-year suspension in addition to the other suspension imposed. However, the driver is usually eligible for the hardship license after installing an IID.

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