Louisiana DWI First Offense

Louisiana DWI First Offense

Attorney at Law Michael J. Vergis understands the pressure and uncertainty that comes with a Louisiana DWI (first offense) and is committed to providing compassionate, experienced legal representation.

For over 25 years, Louisiana DWI attorney Michael J. Vergis has represented countless clients as they face DUI charges and will work diligently to secure the best possible outcome for your DUI offense. With an in-depth understanding of Louisiana DUI laws, you can trust that your case is in the best hands.

If you’re facing charges for a first-offense DUI in Louisiana, call the law office of Michael J. Vergis at (318) 698-3724 or reach out online to schedule a free consultation with our criminal lawyers in Shreveport and Bossier City today. 

Louisiana DWI Law

Louisiana DWI laws are stringent, reflecting the state’s commitment to road safety and the prevention of alcohol-related accidents. Under Louisiana law, a driver is considered to be operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.

It’s important to note that individuals can still be charged with a DUI in Louisiana even if their BAC is below this threshold if their capacity to operate a motor vehicle is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Louisiana law also addresses penalties for refusal to submit to a BAC test, underage drinking and driving, and driving under the influence of controlled substances.

Penalties for driving under the influence in Louisiana escalate with subsequent offenses, but even a first and second offense DUI can result in fines, jail time, license suspension, and mandatory participation in substance abuse programs. 

Louisiana First DUI Attorney

Louisiana DWI Statute

Louisiana Revised Statute § 14:98, Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated, defines and penalizes the act of driving while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. This statute is crucial for maintaining public safety on Louisiana’s roads by setting strict legal standards for impairment.

Under RS 14:98, an individual can be charged with a Louisiana DWI offense if they operate a vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or any other means of conveyance while alcohol, drugs, or a combination pf both that impairs their mental or physical abilities.

Louisiana DUI laws outline specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) thresholds: 0.08% for drivers over 21, lower levels for commercial drivers and minors, and penalties for offenders that escalate with the severity of the offense and any previous DWI convictions.

According to Louisiana law, a first and second-offense DWI is considered a misdemeanor in Louisiana, but a third-offense DWI is a felony. A fourth offense DUI in Louisiana is also considered a felony charge and can result in up to 30 years in jail.

Whether it’s your first DUI in Louisiana or your third offense DWI, it’s crucial to contact an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Working with a skilled Bossier City or Shreveport DWI attorney like Michael Vergis can help offenders obtain more favorable outcomes from their cases, like enrollment in a driver improvement program or substance abuse program.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit in Louisiana

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) plays a pivotal role in enforcing Louisiana DWI laws. As mentioned above, the state adheres to a BAC limit of 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and over, aligning with the national standard for what constitutes the legal limit.

However, the blood alcohol concentration isn’t the same for all drivers in Louisiana. For commercial vehicle drivers, the threshold is at 0.04%, and for drivers under the age of 21, their BAC limit is at 0.02%.

Exceeding these BAC thresholds can result in significant legal penalties, including fines, driver’s license suspension, jail sentences, and installing an ignition interlock device. 

Louisiana First-Offense DWI Attorney

Consequences of a Louisiana DWI First Offense

The consequences of a first DUI in Louisiana are immediate and long-lasting. Individuals found guilty of a DUI offense may face severe penalties including fines ranging from $300 to $1,000, jail for ten days or up to 6 months, and possible community service requirements. Probation is also common, often accompanied by mandatory participation in a driver improvement program or a substance abuse program.

Beyond these immediate legal repercussions, the first DUI offense carries long-term impacts such as driver’s license suspension for up to a year, increases in auto insurance rates, and establishment of a criminal record, which can affect employment opportunities and social standing.

The penalties for a DUI conviction can also escalate based on the offender’s blood alcohol concentration at the time of arrest, with higher BAC levels or the presence of aggravating factors, such as causing a motor vehicle accident, violating child endangerment law, or exhibiting particularly reckless driving behavior, leading to even harsher penalties. These harsher penalties can include installing an ignition interlock device in the offender’s vehicle for up to a year, higher fines, and more. 

Louisiana DUI Lawyer

What To Expect After a First Offense DWI Arrest

After a person’s first DUI charge, individuals can expect a series of legal proceedings that begin with the booking process, where they are formally charged and may spend 48 hours in jail or be released on bail. Following booking, the arraignment is next, during which the accused is read the DUI charges and asked to enter a plea.

If the DUI case progresses, pre-trial hearings may be scheduled to discuss motions, including those to suppress evidence or to negotiate plea bargains. Ultimately, the case may proceed to trial. Throughout each of these stages, having legal representation is crucial.

An experienced DWI lawyer not only guides the accused through the legal process but also devises a unique defense. Possible defenses may include challenging the accuracy of breathalyzer tests, challenging the legality of the traffic stop, or arguing mitigating circumstances.

A skilled DWI attorney like Michael J. Vergis can also effectively navigate the legal system, advocate on the accused’s behalf, and work to minimize the DUI charges or seek alternative sentencing options.

FAQs for DUIs in Louisiana

What Happens When You Get Your First DUI?

Following a first-time DUI offense, you will be arrested and undergo the booking process, during which your fingerprints and photographs will be taken. After this, you may be released on bail and have to appear for an arraignment, where the DUI charges against you will be formally presented.

Is a DUI Considered a Traffic Violation?

A DUI offense is more than just a traffic violation; it is a criminal offense. This means that being charged with a DUI can lead to more severe consequences than typical traffic violations, including a potential jail sentence, fines, and a criminal record.

What is the Penalty for First Offense DWI in Louisiana?

A first-time DUI offense in Louisiana can result in fines, possible jail time from 10 days to 6 months, and a license suspension for up to 12 months. Offenders may also be required to complete a substance abuse program and participate in a driver improvement program.

How Much Can You Expect to Pay for a 1st Time DUI Offense?

The total cost of a first-time DWI can vary, often ranging from $5,000 to $12,000 or more when accounting for legal fees, fines, increased insurance premiums, DUI education programs, and other related expenses.

How Much is Bail for a First-Time DUI?

Bail for a first-time DUI can vary based on the jurisdiction, the circumstances of the arrest, and local bail schedules, but typically ranges from $500 to $2,500. It’s important to note that the court determines the exact amount of bail.

How Likely Is Jail Time for First DUI?

Jail time for a first DWI offense varies by jurisdiction and the case circumstances. While some areas may impose jail time as part of the mandatory minimum penalties for a first DUI, others might opt for probation, fines, or community service, especially if no aggravating factors are involved.

How Many Hours of Community Service for DUI First Offense?

The number of hours of community service required for a first DUI charge can depend on the state or jurisdiction’s laws and the specifics of the case. Generally, individuals may be required to complete anywhere from 24 to 150 hours of community service as part of their sentence.

Will My License Be Suspended After a 1st Offense DWI?

A first-time DWI conviction can lead to a driver’s license suspension for up to one year. However, you may be able to apply for a “hardship license,” which grants limited driving privileges, such as commuting to work or school, during the suspension period.

After a 1st Offense DWI, Will I Be Required to Install an Ignition Interlock Device? 

Whether you’ll need an ignition interlock device (IID) depends on your state’s laws and the specifics of your case. In some states, IID installation is mandatory for first-time offenders, while in others, it might be discretionary or reserved for repeat offenses. 

In Louisiana specifically, IIDs are not always mandated for first-offense DWI convictions, but judges still have the authority to order its installation as a condition of probation or to regain driving privileges.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a First-Offense DUI?

For a first-offense DUI, it is highly advisable to consult with a lawyer. A DUI attorney can negotiate reduced penalties or challenge the charges based on the evidence.

Will a DUI Ruin My Life?

While a DUI conviction can impact your life, it does not have to ruin it. With the right steps, such as legal representation, compliance with court requirements, and possibly attending substance abuse programs, individuals can recover and move forward.

Choosing the Right DWI Defense Attorney in Louisiana

When charged with a DUI in Louisiana, choosing the right defense attorney is crucial to achieving the best outcome from your DUI charges. When selecting an attorney, it’s important to consider their experience with Louisiana DWI cases, their knowledge of Louisiana laws, and their track record of successfully defending clients.

What sets criminal defense attorney Michael J. Vergis apart in the Shreveport-Bossier area is his comprehensive understanding of Louisiana DUI laws, combined with over two decades of legal experience. From first-time offenses to enhanced DUI charges, his approach is tailored to the specifics of each case, aiming to achieve the best possible outcome for his clients.

His reputation for meticulous attention to detail and aggressive advocacy in court gives his clients a distinct advantage, making him a top choice for anyone facing a DUI conviction in Louisiana.

First Offense DWI Louisiana

Facing DWI Charges? Call Shreveport-Bossier Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Vergis Today

Driving under the influence in Shreveport-Bossier is a serious criminal offense. With stakes this high and your future on the line, having the right legal representation is crucial. Michael J. Vergis, a seasoned criminal defense attorney, is dedicated to providing strategic and personalized defense for those charged with a DUI, whether it’s your first offense or you’re facing multiple Louisiana DUI charges.

Call our law firm at (318) 698-3724 or complete our online intake form to schedule a free consultation today!