Louisiana DWI First Offense : Ultimate Guide To DWI Laws In Louisiana

Louisiana DWI first offense

As you know, Louisiana DWI first offense charges and LA DWI laws can be harsh! This guide will teach you important information and things you should be aware of when charged with DWI in the state of Louisiana.

First-Offense DWI in Louisiana

Have you been arrested for a Louisiana DWI first offense? Read on to learn exactly what you can expect to happen. In addition to first offense charges, we will also look at what will happen if you’ve been arrested multiple times.

Arrested For Driving While Intoxicated In Louisiana: What You Need To Know

Can I Drive?

The first concern you may have after getting arrested for DWI is, “Can I drive?” The answer is yes – you can drive legally for 30 days after the date of the arrest for DWI in Louisiana.

The officer should have given you a temporary license which is a regular sheet of paper. It may say “Official Notice of Withdrawal of Driving Privileges.” Keep that on you at all times.

Why Did the Officer Take My Driver’s License?

Many people often wonder why an officer might take their license when pulled over for a DWI. The simple answer is that the police officer took your driver’s license to protect you. However, we know that it doesn’t feel this way in the case of a DWI arrest!

An officer will take your license because:

  • you may have refused to take a breathalyzer test
  • you tested above the legal limit
  • you’ve been arrested for DWI

Either way, you are facing a suspension of your driveling privileges. The next step from here is to request an Administrative Hearing to fight the proposed suspension. Please be aware that you have 30 days to make that request. This is why you can drive legally for 30 days as we mentioned previously.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: When you hire a DWI lawyer such as Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney, he or she will take care of requesting and attending the hearing for you. It really pays off to hire an attorney. In doing so, you won’t have to worry and will have a better outcome in the end!

If you have not requested the Administrative Hearing by the end of the 30 day period, your license will automatically go into suspension. If you’re caught driving a vehicle at that time, you could be facing a Driving Under Suspension charge. That charge carries a one-year suspension of your driver’s license which will complicate your issues even more!

Louisiana DWI First Offense: How Much Is The Bail?

The bail for DWI first offense in is usually set by a judge. However, the amount that is set can be according to a scheduled bail.  We know this can be confusing. Just keep reading to learn everything!

In essence, the amount of a person’s bail will depend upon the parish where the DWI arrest took place.  Many times, the bail is set around $2500 for a DWI first offense. However, you can hire a bail bondsman to put up the bond for a reduced amount.

Helpful Fact: Typically, a bail bondsman will take only 10-12% of the bail amount. This amount covers his fee for putting up the entire amount. Learn more.

Louisiana DWI facts
DWI facts


What Does It Take to Get Charged with a Louisiana DWI First Offense?

Let’s go over some of the laws around getting charged with driving while intoxicated in Louisiana. Whether you live in LA or somewhere else, we know this will be super helpful!

Determining BAC

BAC, or blood alcohol content, is a term used for the way that Law Enforcement measures the amount of alcohol in your system. A person’s BAC is determined through a variety of different methods. 

Some of the methods used to determine BAC include:

  • field sobriety tests
  • blood samples
  • breathalyzer tests

The Implied Consent law means if you have a license from Louisiana, you’ve consented to these tests. Refusing a sobriety test will result in the loss of your driving privileges in Louisiana.

However, alcohol in the blood is not the only way someone gets a DWI. The officer can make an arrest for DWI if he believes the defendant is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Alcohol in the blood is not even required to prove DWI, but it is a strong piece of evidence for the prosecutor.

Legal Blood Alcohol Limit In Louisiana

In Louisiana, anything above 0.08% is presumed intoxication for those ages 21 and up. For those younger than 21, 0.02% is illegal.


What happens when you get your first DWI in Louisiana?

Whether you are hit with a DWI charge in Louisiana or any other state, your first DUI charge will be considered a misdemeanor offense. Your first DWI will have you punished with fines, community service, license suspension, and possible probation.
However, other factors can change the level or nature of your charge resulting in enhanced sentences or penalties.

Take a quick look at the DWI process in Louisiana in the helpful infographic below! We know you will find it super helpful in explaining your first offense charges.

dwi law process louisiana
Louisiana DWI Law Process for First Time offenders

Penalties for DWI in Louisiana

First Offense DWI (Misdemeanor)

Generally, a Louisiana DWI first offense is called a “misdemeanor.” A DWI, which is often called an OUI or a DUI, is a misdemeanor in Louisiana that carries a maximum penalty of six (6) months in jail. In addition to the jail time, you could get a fine of up to $1000.00. Furthermore, the crime has implications on your driver’s license and may cause a suspension of driving privileges.

The penalty upon conviction of a first DUI offense in Louisiana:

Fines: $300 to $1,000 fine ($750 to $1,000 if BAC 0.20 or more)

Jail time: 10 days to 6 months in jail.

Drivers License Suspension: 12 months drivers license suspension (2 years if BAC 0.20 or more).

In addition, it’s possible for a first offender to receive 48 hours to six months in jail. 

DWI penalties also include:

  • Offenders could end up spending over 6 months in prison or be asked to pay a fine of about $300 to over $1,000. On a number of occasions, the prison term may be suspended if the offender is placed on probation and has carried out the following; a minimum of 32 hours of community service, about 48 hours of jail time, take part in a substance abuse program that has been recommended by the court, and takes part in a proper driver improvement program or course. During this period of time, the court may ask an offender not to drive a car except on the condition that an ignition interlock has been installed in the vehicle.
  • Offenders could get about two years of probation, and in that period of time, they may or may not be allowed to drive their vehicles.
  • The court may ask the offender to take part in about three compulsory 30 hours of re-education programs. Attendance in these three programs is mandatory, and the offender is made to take an active part. The three programs are usually; driver improvement program, substance abuse, and MADD victim program.
  • The community service offenders may be asked to do would mostly be to pick garbage off the streets.

Special Penalties

  • If it is discovered that the BAC level of an offender is over 0.15%, then the offender would have to serve an additional 48 hours of jail time which unlike the other one mentioned earlier cannot be suspended for any reason.
  • In the event that the BAC level is over 0.20%, the offender would have to spend about 48 hours in jail and would be made to pay a fine of about $750 to over $1,000. Also, an ignition interlock system would have to be installed in the vehicle of the offender for two years.
  • If it is found out that a child endangerment law has been violated, a number of the jail sentences that have been listed cannot be suspended.


first DWI offense in Louisiana
DWI First offense in Louisiana

Second Offense DWI (Misdemeanor)

Like Louisiana DWI first offense, the second offense is considered a misdemeanor and it has the following penalties;

  • Offenders may be asked to pay a fine of about $750 to over $1,000
  • Offenders would have to spend 48 hours in jail without having any benefit of suspension. Unlike the first offense where the jail time can be suspended based on a number of reasons, the second DWI offense jail time cannot be suspended for any reason.
  • Offenders would have to undergo 30 days of community service, and this could include having to pack garbage off the streets.
  • Offenders would have to enroll and take active parts in about three re-education programs.
  • Most judges may ask offenders to install an ignition interlock device for about 6 months. Based on any standard the judge finds fit, if the BAC level is considered to be high, the ignition interlock device would have to be installed.

Special Penalties:

  • If after careful examination it is discovered that the BAC level of an offender is above 0.15%, then the offender would have to serve over 96 hours of jail time.
  • If on the other hand, the BAC level is 0.20% and above, the offender would be made by law to serve jail time of 96 hours as well as pay a fine of $1,000. In this situation, the driver’s license would have to be suspended for 48 months (about 4 years). Also, an ignition interlock would have to be installed in the vehicle.
  • If during this period, an offender is charged with Vehicular homicide or negligent injury, a number of jail sentences would be appropriate. If the second offense is combined with either a negligent injury or vehicular homicide, the jail term could rise from 96 hours to over 5 years. Depending on a number of factors; like the impact of either the negligent injury or vehicular homicide, or the interpretation of the judge, the jail time could be served with or without hard labor. Also, a fine of over $2,000 must be paid. For a second DWI offense without the charges mentioned above, the jail time would be six months without parole or suspension of any kind.
  • If during the period, any child endangerment law is violated, the offender would be made to serve jail time.


Third Offense DWI (Felony)

Generally, a third driving while intoxicated case is referred to as “felony.” The Louisiana DWI laws for felony DWI get much more severe. For situations like this, the penalties include;

  • An offender would be asked by the court to pay a fine of $2,000.
  • Offenders may be required by the court to serve jail time of one (1) to over five (5) years probably with or without hard labor. Offenders would have to serve one year of their jail time without suspension or probation.
  • Offenders may be asked to observe a 30-day community service which may include having to pick garbage off the streets and also carry out other stressful community services.
  • They may be required to undergo an evaluation, and this is to examine if they are addicted to alcohol.
  • They would be required by the court to comply or take part in inpatient treatment for about four weeks. After that is completed, they would be required by the court to enroll and complete an outpatient treatment for about twelve (12) months.
  • They would be required by the court to serve probation for any of the sentences that have been suspended or even be home incarcerated. If ordered by the court to observe home incarceration, the offender would have to wear a tracking device and also have curfew restrictions as well as electronic monitoring.
  • According to the laws of the state, the prosecutor of the case has been given the right to seize the vehicle pf the offender and have it sold off if he or she deems it fit.
  • If under the child endangerment law, a sentence is imposed, the offender would have to serve jail time without one year of the sentence being suspended.
  • The offender would be required by law to install an ignition interlock device on all vehicles that he or she drives.
DWI complete guide to Louisiana DWI process


Fourth Offense DWI (Felony)

All fourth driving while intoxicated cases are considered by the court as a felony. Penalties have been stipulated for offenders, and they include;

  • Offenders would be asked to pay a fine of $5,000.
  • Offenders may be required by the court to serve jail time for a minimum of about ten (10) years and a maximum of thirty (30) years.
  • Offenders may be required by law to undergo 40-days community service. The task to be carried out is more stressful and intense.
  • Two years out of the sentence offenders may be required to serve would be done without suspension or parole.
  • Offenders may have to be incarcerated for a year. This means that they would be monitored.
  • The vehicle driven by the offender would be confiscated.
  • Offenders may be required to undergo inpatient and out-patient treatments for a specific period of time. Most of the times, the treatment could be up to two years or less.
  • If the offender is charged with child endangerment violations, a number of additional penalties would be meted out appropriately.


How long do you go to jail for DWI in Louisiana?

For first offense DWI, a judge may sentence you to 6 months in parish jail. However, the judge usually suspends that time and places convicted defendants on probation for one to two years.

The Louisiana law provides that 48 hours of that time cannot be suspended. This is unless the defendant does 32 hours of community service, half of which must be litter abatement.

For second offense DWI, the 6-month sentence is the same. The only difference is that there is a minimum mandatory 30 days in jail, which really is a big deal! This jail time can be suspended if the defendant completes 240 hours of community service. However, it’s important to note that the defendant must serve 48 hours in jail on second-offense DWI in Louisiana.

What Is the Cleansing Period for DUI?

Generally, according to Louisiana DUI laws, there is what is referred to as the “DWI cleansing period.” This is a ten-year period which means that all DWI convictions within and outside Louisiana that are ten years old cannot and would not be used against the offender.

Important Fact: The ten-year period starts from the date of arrest of the current DWI and goes back to when the defendant completed probation or parole on previous DWI conviction.


Violation of the Child Endangerment Law

This Louisiana DWI laws on child endangerment clearly states that if the passenger in the vehicle is a minor between the ages of twelve (12) or below when the driving while intoxicated crime is committed, sentence suspension cannot work. This basically means that offenders would have to complete their sentence if a minor is a passenger in the vehicle when the crime was committed.


Louisiana DWI First Offense: License Hearing Process

The hearing process is quite straightforward in Louisiana just like most other states. First, the evidence against you that has been forwarded to the department would be carefully reviewed by the judge. The officer would also be present at the hearing as he or she would be called upon to testify. Hiring a well-trained and experienced DWI lawyer would ensure that you’re case is presented in the best light favorable to you.

Once the evidence presented has been carefully reviewed by the hearing officer, he or she will decide as to whether the evidence that has been provided by the arresting officer is valid. If on the other hand, the evidence presented by your Louisiana DWI defense attorney is valid, then your driver’s license would be reinstated immediately. If after careful consideration by the hearing officer and the evidence presented by the arresting officer is valid, you may be required to apply for a Louisiana hardship license. You will have to meet the stipulated requirements during the 30-day period. Offenders that are granted a hardship license would be required by the court to install an ignition interlock system on their vehicles. As an offender, you are responsible for the cost of installing and also maintaining the ignition interlock system. It is important that you bear in mind that you will be required by law to hire the services of a professional ignition interlock installation company to carry out the job.

Louisiana DWI And Commercial Driving

If you are driving a commercial vehicle and it is discovered that your blood alcohol level (BAC) level is about 0.04% or higher, you will be arrested and charged with DWI law violation. Basically, Louisiana DWI laws state that commercial drivers are not required to have a BAC level of 0.04 or higher. If as a commercial driver, it is discovered that your BAC level is greater than the legal percentage, the arresting officer will immediately issue you an out-of-service order which will see you not being able to drive for a day.

Louisiana DWI and commercial driving
commercial drivers Louisiana DWI

If on the other hand, it is discovered that you are guilty of driving while intoxicated with a BAC level of 0.4% or greater, your commercial driver’s license would be revoked for twelve months. If it is discovered that you are transporting hazardous materials, your CDL or commercial driving license would be revoked for three years. Commercial drivers that are arrested for a second DWI offense would have their commercial driving license revoked for life. This basically means that they would no longer work as commercial drivers.


DWI Under 21

If you are 21 years of age and have been charged with an underage DWI case with a BAC level of 0.02% or greater, your license would be seized and suspended for about 180 days. If you are charged with a Louisiana DWI case while still under 21 for the second time, your license would be suspended for 365 days which is a year. If on the other hand, it is discovered that your blood alcohol concentration level is about 0.08% or higher, you will be made to face the penalties individuals over 21 years of age will face.

underage DWI charges in LA
underage drinking and driving


DWI Blood Test

According to the laws of the state, an officer of the law can only draw blood for a BAC test if they have a warrant to do so. Also, they can request to draw your blood for a chemical test if there are serious bodily injuries that are in connection to the DWI case. Blood can also be drawn if you give them the opportunity to do so. This basically means that except on the condition that there are bodily injuries, a police officer would need to have a warrant before he or she is able to draw blood to carry out a test.


Impact a DWI Conviction Can Have on You

While we have discussed some of the penalties that you could face if you are charged with a Louisiana DWI offense, it is important that you bear in mind that a DWI conviction can have a negative impact on your professional and personal life. First, it is important that you remember that your information and crime could be published in newspapers. Basically, each week prisons in Louisiana release a list of new inmates to newspapers. With your personal information published in these newspapers, you could bury your chances of getting that dream job. Generally, no employer would love to hire an ex-convict. Things could go from bad to worse if you are the breadwinner of the family. Irrespective of the time spent in jail, your image is tarnished. Even if you are retained at your current job, your chances of getting that promotion you deserve become narrow.


Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers are at risk of losing their job if charged with a DWI case for the second time. Aside from the fact that you could spend years in jail, you may be required by the court to pay a fine. As mentioned earlier, you could be made to pay over $5,000 depending on the number of times you have violated the Louisiana DWI law.



If you are planning on applying for insurance coverage, you will find it surprising to know that they are able to access criminal records. This means that spending time in jail will definitely ruin your chance of getting that loan or insurance cover. These are a few of the reasons why you need to put in the effort to ensure that you do not get to spend time in jail irrespective of the duration. Hiring the services of a well-trained or professional Louisiana DWI defense attorney to handle your case is the initial effort that you need to put in to narrow your chances of being locked behind bars.


Workplace Consequences of a DWI in Louisiana:

A DWI (also known as a DUI in some states) can get you in a lot of trouble. Jail time, fines, and community service are standard punishments for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Being convicted of a DWI can leave a pretty nasty mark on your professional record and harm your future employment opportunities. Depending on the number of offenses, a DWI conviction can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Any number of offenses, however, can permanently affect your life in many negative ways:

1) Immediate termination: Depending on who you work for, you may be fired immediately upon conviction of DWI Louisiana. Not every company does this, of course, but it is a concern, especially if you wish to move to higher ranks in your company. The CEO of a company getting a DWI would surely reflect very poorly on the business.

2) License Suspension: In most states, your driver’s license will be suspended upon conviction of a Louisiana DWI. Many states do allow exemptions for driving to/from work, but this cannot be counted on in every case. Public transportation may not be reliable or even available, creating major problems for you in your workplace.

3) Loss of Car Insurance: Your insurance company may not cover people with DWI’s on their record. This can have an impact on your career, especially if you are required to operate heavy machinery while on the job. Even if your insurance is not terminated, it will surely become more expensive. This all becomes even more inconveniencing if you are covered by an employer’s company insurance. Their insurance may also increase, causing them to have to either pay more or fire you.

4) Loss of a professional license: Professional licensing agencies must be alerted upon arrest for a Louisiana DWI. Professional licenses include those given to doctors, lawyers, nurses, etc. Losing a license like this will surely lead to getting fired.

5) Applying for a new job: Most job applications require the disclosure of any previous arrests. This will surely tarnish your application and you will likely be eked out by a candidate who doesn’t have any previous arrests. A DWI will stay on your record for many years, the length depending on the state in which it was issued.


What’s the difference between DUI and DWI in Louisiana?

DWI and OWI are the same charge in Louisiana. They stand for Driving While Intoxicated and Operating While Intoxicated. The actual true name of the charge in Louisiana is Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated which is found under La RS 14:98. The DWI statute involves driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. DWI first and second offense are misdemeanors. DWI third offense and fourth and subsequent offenses are felony charges. Read more.


Does DUI affect credit score?

Although a DUI conviction tends to affect many things in your life, a DUI conviction or arrest should not affect your credit score. Usually it will not show up on a credit report, as a conviction stays on your criminal record.


Does DUI ruin your life?

A DUI does not have to ruin your life. If you get a DWI lawyer, fight your case, make good decisions and negotiate a good deal, you may be able to go on with your life with relatively little change. If your lawyer can win your case or get the charges dropped, you won’t even have a DUI conviction on your record. However, you

Louisiana DWI Expungement

Generally, a Louisiana DWI expungement means that an offender has completed all the terms of his or her sentence. This could include; paying the stipulated fines and waiting for 24 months before filing for an expungement. While most people believe that an expungement will take off their criminal history, it is important that you remember that security agencies, employers, and other agencies may look at the history to find the crime that was committed. It has been revealed currently that advanced educational institutions, employers, as well as professional licensing companies, require individuals to provide or present documents of convictions prior to this time. If an offender has been given an expungement file, the employer or educational institute may him or her to provide their expungement documents.

What Should You Do If Convicted of DWI?

Pay your penalties and do your time. Classroom attendance is of utmost importance, so make it to every class. Finish your community service.

When you’ve completed your sentence, reinstate your driver’s license. Then use apps like Uber and Lyft to transport you when you’ve been drinking.

In the meantime, you may apply for a Hardship License.

This will allow you to drive to and from certain locations (such as school or work) under strict limits. A Hardship License may force you to get an Ignition Interlock Device. This tests your BAC level before allowing your car to start.

Take a look at our DWI Information Portal below for more information on a DWI offense:

DWI Info Portal

Louisiana DUI attorney
Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney

DWI Attorney In Louisiana

When charged with a Louisiana DWI, it is advised that you hire the services of a well-trained and experienced DWI attorney. One of the key factors to having a more positive outcome is having professional representation in court.

Most people that have refused to hire the services of a professional have suffered greatly. In the long run, most have spent and lost more than they envisaged. There are a number of reasons why you should hire the services of a DWI defense attorney. Here are a few:

  • A DWI attorney will ensure that you are represented in court. Before appearing in court, an experienced DWI defense attorney will gather crucial evidence on the case at hand.
  • As earlier mentioned, once you are arrested and charged with a DWI offense, you have 30 days to request for a hearing. Your Louisiana DWI attorney will certainly help you file this request and ensure that any penalties are limited.

Download our DWI Book

DWI: Practical Information for the Accused and Attorneys in Louisiana

Published in June 2023, DWI: Practical Information for the Accused and Attorneys in Louisiana provides useful information to those who have been arrested for DWI in Louisiana, rather than the typical SEO-driven content found on the internet.  This book can be purchased in the Kindle format on Amazon. I provide a free copy to my clients after they hire me.

What To Look For In An Experienced DWI Attorney

An experienced Louisiana DWI defense attorney is one that has a number of years in the industry. He or she would be able to come up with a strategy to see acclaimed offenders free from all charges. While this isn’t something that happens all the time, it certainly is only possible when you hire an experienced lawyer. And these situations do occur from time to time.

If you have a family member or loved one that has a Louisiana DWI case, it is advised that you hire a defense attorney to handle the case. It is also advised that you tell the truth when you hire the services of a defense attorney.

You do not have to hide anything from your attorney. The information you divulge is confidential. Additionally, any information that is concealed may further narrow your chances of leaving the courtroom free and with your license reinstated.

Furthermore, it’s important to hire a DWI defense attorney with courtroom tactics and strategies capable of turning the situation in your favor. Finding an excellent DWI lawyer such as Carl Barkemeyer will truly pay off in the end.

Reach out to Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney for a consultation. We will offer our informed idea of the criminal process in Baton Rouge and enable you to learn more about your Louisiana DWI first offense charges.