A DWI is a serious charge, as the penalties can include steep fines and jail time if convicted. You will also likely get your driver’s license suspended for anywhere from months to years, depending on how many DWIs you’ve been convicted of in the past.
If you were charged with a DWI in Louisiana, it’s important to take this charge seriously due to the penalties you’re facing. However, that doesn’t mean you should accept defeat and await the consequences. Instead, you should protect your legal rights by contacting DWI lawyers in Louisiana to help you fight the charge.
Here’s what to know about the penalties you could face if convicted. Once you understand what to expect, hire a lawyer for a chance to avoid these consequences.
What Are the Penalties for a First-Offense DWI?
A first-offense DWI is a misdemeanor. If you’re charged with this crime, you might get some leniency from a judge if you have an otherwise spotless record and a skilled lawyer fighting for you. But you might still spend some time in jail and have to deal with other legal penalties.
In fact, the jail time for a first-offense DWI is between 10 days and 6 months. In some cases, it’s possible to get probation instead so you only spend 48 hours in jail or avoid jail entirely. Your lawyer will let you know if this is a possibility for you.
Your fines will range between $300 and $1,000, and your license will be suspended for up to 12 months. You might also be mandated to attend a substance abuse program and complete several hours of community service.
What Are the Penalties for a Second-Offense DWI?
A second-offense DWI is also a misdemeanor, but the penalties are slightly more severe. You will likely spend anywhere from 30 days to 6 months in jail. Your lawyer may be able to fight to keep your jail time as minimal as 48 hours plus probation, but some jail time is typically required for the second offense.
You will be required to pay a fine of $750 to $1,000. You may also need to undergo a substance abuse program and complete hundreds of hours of community service. You can expect to lose your driver’s license for a year, as well, though you can ask to install an ignition interlock device on your car so you can drive again after six months. Your DWI lawyers will advise you on your options during your case.
What Are the Penalties for a Third-Offense DWI?
A third or fourth-offense DWI is a felony, which means your penalties will be more severe than the first two offenses. First, you will be imprisoned for one to five years if convicted. Even if you’re able to negotiate and get probation for some of your sentence, you will typically be required to serve at least one year in prison.
You will also need to pay a fine of $2,000 and perform community service for 30 days. A substance abuse treatment program will be required, usually starting with an inpatient program for the first month, followed by a year of outpatient treatment.
Additionally, the state has the right to seize and sell your vehicle, and your license will be suspended for 36 months. You might be able to apply for a hardship license after 12 months so you can drive to work and school, but you will need to pay to install an ignition interlock device first.
If you get a fourth DWI conviction, you will spend even more time in prison, as this penalty ranges from ten to thirty years. You will also pay $5,000 in fines and lose your license for four years.
No matter how many times you’ve been charged with a DWI, you need a lawyer if you want the best chance of reducing your penalties. If you’re ready to discuss your legal options after a first or fourth DWI, contact Keith T. Whiddon, Attorney at Law, LLC. Our lawyers have spent years defending clients from serious criminal charges, and we’d like to do the same for you. Call us at 318-594-3592 for a free initial consultation.