What is a DWI?

In Louisiana, a DWI is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, an illegal substance, prescription drugs taken above the prescribed dosage or the combination of drugs (illegal or prescription) and alcohol. If you are arrested for a DWI you will face a suspension of your license as well as a variety of criminal penalties that will vary depending on your age, blood alcohol content, whether you have been convicted of a prior DWI in Louisiana or any other state and whether there is an injury or fatality that occurred as a result of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

All Louisiana officers that make a DWI arrest must be trained according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing 24 hour course. That 24 hour course is the minimum training officers must receive for all DWI investigations in Louisiana to properly conduct field sobriety tests (the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test). If you submit to the the breath test, the officer must also be trained to operate the intoxilyzer 9000 or intoxilyzer 5000, respectively.

After the stop is made, and the DWI investigation begins, the officer will be looking for subtle clues that he will use to build his case and write a report that paints you as overwhelmingly guilty of DWI. For example, the officer that performs the “eye test” (horizontal gaze nystagmus test) is watching for the slightest jerking of your eyes to determine your level of impairment. Further, asking an officer to repeat instructions, raising your arms more than six inches from your body for balance or not counting out loud will be considered another indication that you are intoxicated.

Misdemeanor DWI

A first conviction and second conviction DWI will be classified as a misdemeanor in Louisiana. That means that you may face a fine as high as $1000.00 and six months in jail. It is not uncommon for anyone convicted of a misdemeanor DWI to spend more than a year on probation, attend substance abuse classes, driver improvement classes, and complete litter pick-up community service.

In some circumstances, the person convicted of a DWI will be required to spend a certain amount of time in jail. Even a first offense DWI will carry mandatory jail time if the driver’s blood alcohol content measured to be above .155. A second offense DWI conviction requires at least 48 hours in jail no matter what the driver’s blood alcohol content is measured to be.

Felony DWI

Like a misdemeanor DWI, anyone convicted a third and higher DWI will be required to complete community service, substance abuse counseling, and driver improvement classes. But a felony DWI is different because it can require a minimum of at least two years in a Louisiana prison, significantly higher fines, years and years of probation and suspension of a Louisiana driver’s license for years after the DWI arrest.

Need Help?

Attorney Keith Whiddon is able to assist you during your criminal case and this includes all aspects of criminal law defense representation from the investigation phase through sentencing. I promise immediate and aggressive assistance so that your record may be cleared of DWI.




Resources Related to DWI

DUI & DWI in Louisiana