Louisiana prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle, aircraft, or watercraft:
An OWI (also called “DWI”) is a second offense in Louisiana if the driver has one prior OWI conviction that occurred within the past ten years. However, a serious traffic conviction like vehicular homicide and vehicular negligent injury can act as prior offenses and increase the possible penalties.
A second-offense OWI is a misdemeanor, punishable by 30 days to six months jail and $750 to $1,000 in fines. The judge can allow the offender to serve the jail time under house arrest, provided the offender has no prior OWIs within the last five years.
Probation. The judge can suspend part of the jail sentence by placing the offender on probation. However, a driver who caused an injury accident or had a passenger under 13 years old at the time of the offense is not eligible for a suspended jail sentence. If granted probation, the offender must:
Drivers with a prior offense that occurred within the last year are not eligible for probation and must pay a $1,000 fine for their second-offense conviction.
Excessive BAC. Drivers with a BAC of at least .15% who are granted probation must serve a minimum 96 hours in jail. A driver with a BAC of .20% or more who is granted probation must serve 96 hours in jail, pay $1,000 in fines, and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) for 36 months.
An OWI incident can lead to license suspension several different ways. However, if a driver receives more than one suspension for a single incident, the suspension periods will run concurrently. In other words, the suspensions can overlap.
Conviction. The court reports all second-offense OWI convictions to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The DPS then suspends the driver’s license for 24 months. However, the driver is eligible for a restricted license after installing an ignition interlock device.
Test failure. If the driver had 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 wish to contest the suspension must notify the DPS within 30 days of the license seizure. The driver’s license will then be suspended for 90 days. However, the suspension will be 365 days without possibility of a hardship license if the driver has a prior test failure that occurred within the last five years.
Test refusal. Louisiana’s “implied consent” laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for an OWI to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. An unlawful refusal will result in immediate license seizure and a two-year suspension. However, the driver can apply for a hardship license.
Hardship license. After 30 days of suspension, the driver can apply for a hardship license. This license authorizes the holder to drive to and from work, school, and home with the use of an IID. The hardship license is not available in cases that involve injuries or deaths.
If not already installed, the court will also order an IID for the duration of the probation period (a minimum of six months).
Excessive BAC. Drivers who had a BAC of .20% or more face a four-year suspension in addition to any other suspensions imposed. However, the driver will be eligible for the hardship license after installing an IID.