DUI Laws in Louisiana

A review of current DUI laws in Louisiana… and the consequences you may face if you’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Have you recently been charged with a DUI? This article reviews laws, penalties, and general legal procedures for DUI charges in Louisiana. We invite your questions at the end.



Q: What’s the difference between a DUI and a DWI?

A: A DUI means “driving under the influence” while a DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated. Another term sometimes used within the state of Louisiana is OWI, which means “operating while intoxicated”.

These terms define the act of driving with a blood alcohol content, a BAC, of over the legal limit or driving while high on drugs.[1] Sometimes, these terms are substance specific. Within Louisiana, these terms are interchangeable.

Across the country, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08% if you’re 21 or older. In Louisiana, if you’re under 21, the legal limit is 0.02%. If you break these limits and are caught, you will be charged with a DUI or DWI and face repercussions. An estimated 2.5% of adults drink and drive in Louisiana on a monthly basis [2].


In Louisiana, you may run into a sobriety checkpoint. This is when police block off a road and are allowed to briefly stop passing vehicles to test if the driver is impaired, or not. There’s no telling if police will stop everyone passing through, but if they do stop your vehicle, you can expect a breathalyzer test.

It should be noted that sobriety checkpoints are usually set up in areas where people are expected to be drinking, like in major cities such as New Orleans. The exact whereabouts of these checkpoints are random. Some websites may try to claim they know where all checkpoints are, but unless you see them firsthand, there’s no telling of their locations.

So, what happens if your breathalyzer comes out higher than the legal limit?

In cases when you test for blood alcohol content above the limit, or if you refuse to take the test altogether, police have the legal right to take away your license under administrative license revocation. You will also be arrested.

Legal Process

When arrested for a DUI, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the DMV, has the ability to immediately suspend or take away your license. To top this punishment off, you’ll also have to go to court where other actions will be taken against you. Your overall consequence entirely depends on your situation. You could face any of the following penalties:

  • Completion of DUI school
  • Delay in return of driver’s license
  • Fines
  • Jail time

Whatever happens with your DUI case, you can expect that the ruling and charges will be placed on your public record for ten years after conviction… unless you find a means of expunging it. The public record is necessary for courts to make decisions on future infractions. If you were to receive another DUI again, the consequences become more severe.

Misdemeanor or Felony

In Louisiana, the DUI is classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the situation. For example, if you were pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint and had a BAC of just over 0.08%, you’ll most likely be charged with just a misdemeanor. However, if you caused a serious accident which left another person either hurt or killed, you can face a felony.

Furthermore, there are other factors that determine whether a DUI is ruled as a misdemeanor vs. felony. A felony may be charged in cases:

  • If you have a BAC of over 0.15%.
  • If you have someone under the age of 12 in the car at the time of your DUI.
  • 3+ DUIs

1st DUI

A first time DUI can result in consequences. These are meant to prevent you from drinking and driving in the future. In fact, there’s a great public interest in keeping you from receiving another DUI again in the future.

Depending on your situation, the penalties you receive may be more in the interest of teaching you to be a better driver rather than giving you a full-blown punishment. So, in Louisiana, upon receiving your first DUI, you’ll likely to be charged with a misdemeanor and hold the potential of facing the following consequences [3]:

  • A fine between $300 to $1,000.
  • Jail time between 10 days to 6 months.
  • License suspension for up to 12 months.
  • Potential community service for up to 32 hours.
  • Potential court approved driver improvement program.
  • Potential court approved substance abuse program.
  • Potential interlock ignition device required for 12 months if BAC is 0.20% or more.

2nd DUI

Upon receiving your second DUI, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor and hold the potential of facing the following consequences:

  • A fine between $750 and $1,000.
  • Jail time between 30 days and 6 months.
  • License suspension for up to 24 months and 4 years if BAC was 0.20% or more.
  • Potential community service for up to 240 hours.
  • Potential court approved driver improvement program.
  • Potential court approved substance abuse program.
  • Potential interlock ignition device required for entire time of suspension period.

3rd DUI

Upon receiving your third DUI in the state of Louisiana, you’ll be charged with a felony and hold the potential of facing the following consequences:

  • A fine of up to $2,000.
  • Jail time between 1 to 5 years.
  • License suspension for up to 36 months.
  • Necessary completion of substance abuse evaluation and treatment programs.
  • Potential court approved driver improvement program.
  • Potential court approved driver improvement program.
  • Potential interlock ignition device required for entire time of suspension period.
  • Potential seizure and sale of motor vehicle.

Jail Time

There is a chance you might receive jail time due to your DUI. Again, this entirely depends on your situation. You’re more likely to receive jail time if the following is attached to your DUI:

  • Someone was hurt due to your DUI.
  • You refuse a sobriety checkpoint testing.
  • You enter a plea bargain.

Upon your first DUI offense, you’ll most likely face little to no jail time, 6 months at most. However, if your DUIs start to pile up and it becomes clear you haven’t learned from you previous jail time, you’ll be punished with heavier jail sentences.If you’re curious as to how much jail time you might face due to your DUI, it’s important to discuss the matter with a lawyer.

Furthermore, the following can also land you with a heavier jail sentence:

  • Driving under the influence under the age of 21.
  • Having a BAC of over 0.15%.
  • Having a child aged 12 or under in the car.
  • Were driving well over the speed limit.

Under the Bayou state’s revised statutes Title 14 – Criminal law RS 14:32.1 those who commit either vehicular homicide or manslaughter are automatically given a prison sentence. [4] Generally, people who are convicted can expect a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 30 years, along with a $2,000 fine and a 2-year license suspension. However, if a person’s BAC is 0.15% or more, their minimum prison sentence is automatically brought up to 5 years.

Classes and DUI School

In Louisiana, DUI school is offered both in-person and online, depending on the class. Typically, there are four courses offered by the state to help you become a safer driver:

1. Drug Education Classes

If the court orders drug awareness as a top priority for you, you’ll be completing these courses first. The amount of time you spend in these classes depends on how long the judge believes is necessary.

2. Alcohol Awareness Classes

When someone has been charged with a DUI, the court might order they’re educated in the dangers of alcohol addiction and abuse. However, these classes may also be given to people who are on probation or to employees.

3. DUI and DWI Classes

These classes are given to anyone who has been charged with a DUI or DWI in the state and were ordered by the court to complete a certain amount of hours.

4. Minor in Possession Classes

If a minor is charged with an alcohol offense, whether it be driving under the influence or even just possession, they may be ordered to complete these classes.

The goal of each of these courses is to teach you the dangers of driving under the influence. Since it’s in Louisiana’s best interest to provide a safer community to its residents and visitors, it’s also in their best interest to educate you on how to make different choices.

The cost of DUI school will vary depending on the specific county you’re in and how many classes you’ll need to complete. Furthermore, in addition to attending DUI school, you may need to also pay for an ignition interlock device within your vehicle and other special services.

The following is the average costs for DUI schools and classes in Louisiana [5]:

8 Hour Class, around $140
10 Hour Class, around $170
12 Hour Class, around $190
14 Hour Class, around $230
16 Hour Class, around $270
18 Hour Class, around $300
24 Hour Class, around $380
32 Hour Class, around $480
36 Hour Class, around $530
45 Hour Class, around $590
60 Hour Class, around $780

Statute of Limitations

Unlike other states, Louisiana’s statute of limitations is 1 year on every civil action, including DUIs.

A statute of limitations means that if the prosecutors don’t file criminal charges within that 1-year time-frame, you won’t be prosecuted for your crime. Still, there are exceptions for certain crimes and, depending on the circumstance of your DUI, you may run into these. Particularly, if you’re charged with something much more serious, such as vehicular manslaughter.

The reason for a statute of limitations is that eyewitness memory weakens over time. Additionally, evidence worsens or deteriorates over time. It should be noted that though you may not be prosecuted under the statute of limitations, your charge will remain on your record for up to ten years.


Expungement options are primarily used to prevent future employers from knowing you ever had a DUI. According to Louisiana law [6], you’re allowed to request an expungement from your DUI after 5 years have passed since the completion of your sentence, as long as:

  • You’re not currently in the process of handling felony charges.
  • You haven’t had any felony convictions for the last 5 years.
  • You haven’t expunged a DUI or DWI misdemeanor within the last 10 years.

DUI Lawyer Costs

It’s not required to get a DUI lawyer in order to defend yourself in front of a court of law. However, it is considered to be a smart move by many as you have a better chance of lessoning your penalties.

Still, if it’s not going to cost your time, it’s going to cost your wallet. DUI lawyers are expensive and it’s even more expensive to push for your innocence. With court fees and fines, the potential ignition interlock device, DUI schooling, and your insurance rate – you’re going to be spending thousands more than you may have initially imagined.

An average DUI lawyer will cost you around $1,900 with the costs of court fees adding up to a total of $4,600. Furthermore, if you want a more experienced DUI lawyer, this number is going to rise.

Is Rehab an Option?

A rehabilitation program may just be an option rather than facing traditional penalties. This is due to the fact that Louisiana has an interest in keeping criminals off the street and helping those who have previously broken laws. You will find options for rehabilitation through a drug court.

It should be noted that drug courts WILL NOT open their doors to everyone with a DUI. If you hold a felony DUI, you’re automatically excluded from accessing a drug court.

Your Questions

If you have any further questions pertaining to DUI laws in the state of Louisiana, we invite you to ask them below. If you have further information regarding DUI laws in Louisiana, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to reply to each comment in a prompt and personal manner.

Reference Sources: [1] NHTSA: Drunk Driving
[2] Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Louisiana
[3] Drunkdriving.org: Louisiana DWI DUI Laws
[4] Driving Laws: Louisiana’s Vehicular Homicide Laws and Penalties
[5] DUI Arrest Help: Louisiana DWI Classes Online
[6] Louisiana State Legislature: CCRP 977
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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