Every DWI conviction in Louisiana comes with a minimum punishment of 48 hours in jail, a fine or imprisonment, and a license suspension. The state can take your license even if you refuse to accept the breathalyzer test when pulled over.
If you get caught driving under the influence, you can guarantee one thing: you will lose your license.
How do you get it back?
In Louisiana, you apply for a reinstated license through an administrative hearing. The administrative process usually occurs before the court date and is often entirely separate to your court date.
How does the process work and what do you need to do to make sure you can drive again? Read our guide to the administrative hearing for DWI in Louisiana.
How You Lose Your Driver’s License
Louisana RS 32:667 breaks down the process of license suspension.
When you get pulled over and either fail a blood alcohol test or refuse one, the arresting officer may seize your driver’s license. They then give you a temporary receipt from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Your temporary receipt allows you to drive within Lousiana for 30 days from the date of your arrest.
The text of the receipt also notes that you need to apply for an administrative hearing from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, and you need to do it in 15 days.
What is an Administrative Hearing?
According to state law, an administrative hearing is an “unbiased proceeding” held by a judge to review license suspensions and revocations by the Office of Motor Vehicles.
If you do not make the request within 15 days, then you will lose your license for 90 days from the date of suspension, and you may not be able to apply for a hardship license.
Not all those arrested for drunk driving or suspicion of driving under the influence have the opportunity to make the request within this timeframe.
If you cannot file the request as a result of hospitalization or incarceration, then you can submit the appropriate documents to the department to request your hearing be outside the relevant window.
How to Win a DWI Administrative Hearings
Getting through the first DWI administrative hearing set after your arrest is essential. Losing here makes driving far more difficult.
Not only does it limit you to a restricted license, but you’ll only have that option if you use an ignition interlock system (car breathalyzer). And that’s if the DMV doesn’t revoke your license entirely.
You need an attorney to win, and you need an attorney with an excellent track record of beating the first administrative hearing.
Here’s what happens next.
How to Prepare for the Hearing
You and your DWI lawyer in Louisana will sit down and go over the specifics of your arrest. The details of your case will inform the strategy needed for your hearing.
Going through your arrest records also means you have a sharp eye looking over the process. In rare cases, your lawyer may spot inconsistencies on behalf of the police, which also informs the strategy taken at the hearing.
For example, if your lawyer is unable to identify the probable cause that led the police to stop you, they can use it as a way to prevent a full license revocation.
Any small failure by the police to follow protocol to the letter can help you retain your full license after a DWI arrest. Even in complex cases, it can ensure that you at least hold a restricted driver’s license, which is almost always better than no license at all.
Addressing the Reasons Hearings Fail
Louisiana is cracking down on drunk driving, and there are three scenarios in which you are more likely to lose your license—even with legal representation.
First, if you had a blood alcohol level higher than .08, you can lose your license for as long as six months to two years even on your first offense.
Second, you will lose your license for six months to three years whenever you refuse to submit to a blood test or breathalyzer, even though it is your right to do so. The punishments become more severe if the department sees your DWI is a repeat offense.
Finally, if you have a commercial license and refuse the test, your license is automatically suspended even upon a first offense.
We don’t say this to suggest that everyone will—or should—lose their license in these cases. If you have a valid legal claim, you can still fight them even when the DMW wants an automatic suspension.
What Happens at the Hearing
At the hearing, your attorney presents evidence in support of you retaining your license to the board. They may also use testimony. However, lawyers may no longer call the arresting officer to the hearing to provide any statement.
Many cases hinge on probable cause: why did the police pull you over in the first place? What were the officer’s observations about you? What were the results of the field sobriety test? However, probable cause is a low standard.
At the end of the hearing, the administrative judge determines whether you can keep your license and what type of license you may continue driving on.
Keep Your License with Help from a Lawyer
If you get pulled over in Louisiana, the police can take your license at the scene and leave you with a temporary 30-day permit. From here, you have only 15 days to request your hearing to request your license back.
Administrative hearings are increasingly challenging to win thanks to more stringent drunk driving laws in Lousiana. However, if you believe there is a discrepancy in your case, it is essential to fight it to avoid the loss of your license.
Do you have questions about your case? Don’t waste time wondering. Get in touch immediately to ask for help with your DWI administrative hearing.