What Happens If I’ve Received a DWI in Other States?

The harsh penalties you may face in Louisiana

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Alcohol use is a major contributing factor in fatal car accidents. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a 10-year period there were more than 3,000 people killed in Louisiana in motor vehicle crashes involving a drunk driver. This is why every state, including Louisiana, has strict penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI), which is normally defined as operating any kind of motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 percent.

Jail Time, Suspensions Increase With Every DWI Conviction

In Louisiana, DWI penalties escalate with every subsequent conviction. For instance, a first offense carries a maximum jail term of 6 months and a 90-day suspension of the defendant's driver's license. (The defendant must also serve at least 2 days in jail.) With a second offense, the license suspension is bumped up to 1 year. And if there is a third conviction, it is treated as a felony, and the defendant faces up to 5 years in jail and a 2-year license suspension. A fourth or fifth conviction is also a felony and carries a a prison term of between 10 and 30 years.

Louisiana also has an “implied consent” law. This means that if a law enforcement officer had “reasonable grounds” to suspect you of drunk driving, you are deemed to consent to a blood or similar chemical test to determine your blood-alcohol level. If you refuse the test notwithstanding implied consent, your driver's license can be suspended immediately even if you are not subsequently charged or convicted of a DWI.

Louisiana Looks at All DWI Convictions for the Past 10 Years

When determining how many prior DWI convictions a defendant has for purposes of sentencing, a Louisiana court may only go back 10 years. In other words, if a person was convicted of a DWI back in 2002 and later pleads guilty to a DWI in 2017, the earlier conviction does not count, since it took place more than 10 years ago. A qualified Louisiana drunk driving attorney can advise you on whether your prior DWI convictions may be used against you now.

But what about DWI convictions from another state? As a general rule, they also count as prior offenses under Louisiana law. So long as it took place within the 10-year time limit, any DWI conviction for a DWI offense “under the laws of any state or an ordinance of a municipality” is a “prior conviction” under Louisiana law. So if a defendant pleaded guilty to DWI in Florida in 2015, and was later convicted of DWI in Louisiana, it would be treated as a second offense for purposes of sentencing.

Additionally, Louisiana participates in the interstate Driver License Compact. This is an agreement whereby participating states honor driver's license suspensions issued by other jurisdictions for comparable offenses. For example, let's say you are a Louisiana resident vacationing in Florida. You are arrested and convicted of DUI, which carries a minimum six-month license suspension. Florida is a member of the Compact, so it would inform Louisiana of your conviction, and your driver's license would then be suspended six months, just the same as if you had been convicted in the Louisiana courts.

Louisiana

Louisiana is a member of the interstate Driver License Compact, which requires it to honor drunk driving-related license suspensions issued by other states.

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