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Louisiana is harsh on DWI offenders: Defend yourself

Living in Louisiana means there's lots to do and see. During the early months of the year, you get to celebrate Mardi Gras, and the summer months draw in tourists who want to enjoy the hot weather.

During fun summer events, one problem that happens is that some people drink too much before getting behind the wheel. While a DWI may not be treated severely in some other states, Louisiana takes them very seriously. People who drive while intoxicated could seriously hurt themselves or others, so the authorities don't like to see people driving drunk.

What happens when you're accused of drunk driving?

For a first conviction, your license may be suspended for up to a year. For a first conviction with a blood alcohol concentration of .20 or higher, you face a two-year license suspension. With a suspension, you'll need to wait for the time limit before you can regain your license but should not need to retake your driver's test.

In the case that you have a commercial motor vehicle license and are convicted of drunk driving, your license will be disqualified for a year. For those driving a Hazmat vehicle, your license will be disqualified for up to three years. It's important to note that commercial drivers have a BAC limit of .04 while driving commercial vehicles, which varies from the .08 limit for noncommercial drivers.

When you are able to regain your license, you will need to pay a reinstatement fee and any other requirements set by the court. You will also need to show that you can get insurance and that you have it for at least three years into the future.

The best way to avoid these penalties is to make sure you don't get a conviction. If you fight the charge, it may be lowered or dismissed completely.

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