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What you need to know about Louisiana DUI laws

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Whether you live full-time in Louisiana or, like many thousands of people throughout the nation, enter the state on an annual visit for Mardi Gras, if you plan on imbibing alcohol, you'll want to be aware of all the laws and regulations that pertain to such matters. For instance, you must be age 21 or over to legally consume alcohol in this state. However, in certain circumstances, you may drink alcohol at a younger age without legal implication.  

It's up to you to research traffic laws regarding DUI if you make the decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after consuming an alcoholic beverage. Nothing can ruin a fun Louisiana night on the town like facing arrest on a drunk driving suspicion. The more you know about your rights ahead of time, the better; it's also a good idea to know where to turn for guidance if you're unsure about a particular issue or you wind up facing charges.  

Jail time is likely, even on first offense 

Many people think of Louisiana as a free-spirit type of state with lots of parties and sidewalk celebrations everywhere you turn. That may be a partially correct description in some aspects as New Orleans is known to get rowdy at times. Perhaps surprising to some, this state's laws regarding DUI are quite stringent. The following information explains the penalties you risk if you face DUI charges here: 

  • Even a first offense may carry jail time as a sentence under conviction, perhaps as long as six months. 
  • The court offers alternative or reduced sentencing in some instances, such as allowing someone to perform community service to get less time behind bars. 
  • In addition to community service, you'd also likely have to enter a substance abuse program and take a driver's education class to obtain less time in jail. 
  • Conviction on a first offense in Louisiana means you're looking at a probable 90-day license suspension. This could have serious impact on your personal and professional life, especially if you have no other means of transportation.  
  • Louisiana operates on a zero tolerance system regarding underage drinking. If you are caught drinking underage, and your blood alcohol content measures .02 percent or higher, you will incur penalty. 

As is often the case, repeat offenses carry more severe penalties in this state. A third DUI conviction means you're likely to be without a driver's license for two full years. Any number of issues can arise during a traffic stop or DUI arrest that affect the outcome of your situation. For instance, did the officer deviate from protocol when conducting a search of your vehicle or placing you under arrest?  

If so, you can challenge evidence against you or even request a full dismissal of charges. Such things are often easier said than done, which is why most Louisiana motorists seek outside support when they're trying to mitigate their circumstances following DUI arrests.

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Craig E. Gibbs, Attorney at Law
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New Orleans, LA 70131

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