DWI Defense Lawyer in Bossier City/Shreveport
Not only can receiving a DWI charge be embarrassing for the moment, but it can also follow you around for the rest of your life. It can infiltrate nearly every aspect of your life, from your career to your personal life and even your finances. Those who have been arrested for a DWI in Bossier City, Louisiana need someone on their side to advocate for them and give them the best chance at turning this charge around. That person is Bossier City DWI defense attorney Michael J. Vergis.
The Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis, a general practice law firm located in Northwest Louisiana, is committed to providing individuals with DWI charges with the best possible defense in the region. We work hard to ensure our client’s rights remain protected at all costs. With an excellent reputation among judges, prosecutors, and court personnel, you’re in good hands when you have Shreveport DWI defense lawyer Michael J. Vergis on your side. Schedule a free consultation with the experienced DWI defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis by calling (318) 698-3724 today.
The Difference Between DUI & DWI
Understanding the charges against you can be difficult, especially for someone unfamiliar with the legal system and Louisiana DUI laws. After an arrest, it can be difficult to find anyone that will truthfully answer your questions. DUI lawyers can answer any and all questions you have, including the difference between DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges.
Some states prosecute DWI and DUI cases separately. It ultimately depends on how their criminal law is set up. In Louisiana, these offenses are considered the same crime.
Louisiana DWI Laws
A DWI, or driving while intoxicated, charge can bring about serious consequences in Louisiana. Louisiana laws (R.S. 14:98) define driving while intoxicated as a crime that is committed when an individual drives (1) while under the influence of alcohol or controlled dangerous substances, (2) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, (3) after mixing alcohol with a non-controlled dangerous substance, or (4) while under the influence of one or more non-controlled drugs that are attainable without a prescription.
If a driver is found to have a BAC over .15, the penalties increase to an enhanced DWI charge in Louisiana. At .20, the penalties increase again and become even harsher. For some classes of people like minors and professional drivers, the BAC limit is even lower.
First Offense DUI Louisiana
A first-offense DUI is a misdemeanor in Louisiana, often resulting in fines and jail time ranging from 10-6 months. Sometimes a judge can reduce this sentence to probation, which means you only have to serve a small amount of time in jail or do community service. In many cases, the prosecution team will offer a plea bargain for first-time offenses. Your Bossier misdemeanor defense attorney may actually advise against this if they believe they have an adequate DUI defense.
Multiple DUIs Louisiana
In Louisiana, DUIs are compounded crimes. This means that previous convictions can be used against you in future trials. Multiple DUIs in Louisiana can result in higher prison time and fines. After a second offense, any subsequent criminal charges are elevated to felonies.
However, Louisiana has a “cleansing period” of 10 years, which means that prosecutors can not use DUIs as evidence against you if they happened more than a decade prior to the offense at hand.
Enhanced DUI Louisiana
An enhanced DUI is a DUI with aggravating factors. For example, if a police officer performs a breath test and finds you to have a BAC not only above the legal limit but of .15 or higher, this would be considered an aggravating factor and, therefore, an enhanced DUI charge. Other aggravating factors include having a minor in the car while drunk driving or acquiring multiple DUIs in a short period of time. Enhanced DUIs often result in felony charges and will require the help of a Bossier City felony defense lawyer with years of legal experience and trial skills.
Is a DUI a Felony in Louisiana?
The penalties for a DWI vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, but are very strict nonetheless. While the majority of vehicle and traffic violations are not considered to be criminal offenses, a DWI is. This is because of the danger that driving while intoxicated or under the influence poses to both the offender committing the act as well as other drivers on the road. So, what makes one DWI charge a misdemeanor charge and another a felony?
Essentially, what separates a misdemeanor DWI from a felony DWI is the number of prior offenses. Multiple DWIs in Louisiana warrant much harsher penalties than a single offense. For example, a first and second offense DWI charge is considered a misdemeanor. A third, fourth, or subsequent offense becomes a felony charge in Louisiana and, as such, is met with harsher penalties.
DUI Penalties in Louisiana
If you are found guilty of drunk driving, there will be consequences. Penalties for a DWI charge in Louisiana often include jail time, probation, fines, community service, and possibly even more, depending on any prior convictions. For a first-time offense, the DWI will be considered a misdemeanor, and the penalties may include between $300 to $1,000 in fines and anywhere from 10 days to 6 months in jail (or house arrest). If the court grants probation, the offender must spend 48 hours in jail or complete 32 hours of community service. Completing a substance abuse and driver improvement program is often required, as well.
A second-time offense is still a misdemeanor, but the fines you must pay increase to $750-$1000 and jail time of anywhere between 30 days and up to six months. Home incarceration is also an option. Probation is available, but the defendant must serve 48 hours of jail time and serve 240 hours of community service. Re-education programs, as mentioned previously, must also be completed.
Once it becomes a third-time offense, the charge goes from a misdemeanor to a felony offense. With this, fines increase up to $2,000 and 1 to 5 years imprisonment. Probation is available, but 240 hours of community service, up to one year in jail, and re-education programs must be completed before it can be granted.
For fourth or subsequent offenses, the felony DWI will be met with a fine of $5,000, 10 to 30 years imprisonment, 5 years probation, and 320 hours of community service.
For both third and fourth-time DWI offenses, the offender must also undergo substance abuse treatment, spending 4 weeks inpatient and up to 12 months outpatient. An ignition interlock device will also be required for the offender’s vehicle(s), or your driving privileges may even be revoked and your vehicle seized and sold at the prosecutor’s discretion.
How to Beat a DWI in Louisiana
If a person has been caught driving while intoxicated (or under the influence of drugs, for that matter), there is no doubt they will go unpunished. However, with a skilled attorney and the right defense strategy, there is a chance that these charges may be beaten. Michael J. Vergis provides clients with their best chance at reducing or avoiding convictions altogether. Through tough litigation and negotiation, there is a possibility that DWI charges may be reduced to careless and reckless driving charges or even dropped. In the case that a DWI cannot be dropped entirely and the charge is inevitable, an experienced Shreveport DWI defense attorney can often lessen the severity of the punishment, whatever it may be.
What are Some Defenses for DWI Cases?
The penalties for a DWI may be distressing, but there are many defenses available to fight a DUI case in Shreveport or Bossier. Michael J. Vergis will work diligently to use these defenses in your favor. Some of the DWI defenses that may be used to beat your charge include but are not limited to:
- Illegal arrest
- Lack of probable cause for the initial stop
- Lack of evidence
- Miranda Rights violation
- Administrative mistakes in the blood and/or breath tests procedure
If your DWI attorney can prove one or more of these defenses, it is likely that your charge will be dropped or at the very least reduced significantly. That is why it is so important to hire an experienced Louisiana criminal defense attorney like Mike Vergis. Don’t let an overworked court-appointed public defender use your case as trial practice. Your future may very well depend on it.
How Can a Criminal Charge Impact My Life?
A criminal charge can have a major impact on your life, especially a felony. Many people may think it’s not worth it to fight the first offense, especially if the offense is a misdemeanor. After all, in Louisiana, DUI penalties depend on the number of previous convictions. Having a repeat offense on your record can quickly lead to extensive time in jail and exorbitant fines. Working with a DWI lawyer from the very beginning can make sure you get the most positive outcome in your case.
Criminal charges can also impact other aspects of your life, like housing, employment, and education opportunities. First and second offenses may be misdemeanor charges, but even misdemeanors appear on your record. You’ll have to explain any missing work history to future employers. Felony convictions can prevent you from getting certain licenses and certifications. Many employers choose not to employ felons, and many landlords deny prospective tenants if they have a felony conviction. At some colleges and universities, students face expulsion after a DWI arrest. This isn’t just in Louisiana, either–it’s national. College scholarships are often revoked for some students who have a felony record.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Arrested for a DWI in Louisiana?
Being arrested for any kind of legal issue can be an overwhelming process. Law enforcement agents may not be able to answer your questions, or they may even give you inaccurate or misleading information. The only one on your side now is your Bossier City criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis, you can trust that our team has the knowledge and experience necessary to defend even the most difficult criminal cases.
If you or a loved one is arrested for a DWI or DUI charge, remember that you have basic rights afforded to you. This includes the right to remain silent until an attorney is present. The law enforcement officers may try different tactics to get a confession from you, but anything you say after your Miranda Rights have been read can be held against you later. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. The more time your criminal defense attorney has to craft your defense strategy, the better the outcome of your case.
Top DWI Defense Attorney Serving Bossier, Shreveport, and Surrounding Areas
Having the right lawyer on your side from the very beginning can make all the difference in how your case plays out. That’s why, if you or a loved one is facing a DWI arrest and possible conviction, you should contact the Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis as soon as possible. As the founding member, DWI attorney Michael Vergis can help you protect your rights and your future.
We can provide the legal representation you need to get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Contact us online or call us at 318-698-3724 to schedule your free consultation and get our DWI attorneys working for you today.
In addition to criminal law, Attorney Vergis also handles cases involving family law, personal injury, wrongful death, civil rights, and other related practice areas. Call today to learn more about what he can do for you.