You probably already know this, but a DUI/DWI charge is issued when a person is found to be operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of higher than 0.02 for those under 21 and higher than 0.08 for those over 21.
What are DUI felony laws?
These are the rules that determine whether or not your DUI will be considered a felony offense rather than a misdemeanor. These laws vary by state, and they are based on how many prior convictions you have accrued in a certain time period. For example, in some states, the prior offenses are only considered if they took place in the five years prior to the current offense. In Louisiana, three or more DUIs within a ten (10) year period is a felony.
What are the consequences?
In most states, the penalties work on a graduated system. After each offense, the punishment becomes more severe. For instance, in Louisiana, a “First” Offense DWI carries a minimum imprisonment sentencing range of 10 days to 6 months, with a suspension of the entire sentence if probation eligible. A “Second” Offence DWI, carries a minimum imprisonment sentencing range of 30 days to 6 months, and at least 48 hours of the sentence cannot be suspended.
In Louisiana, after you commit a third offense, you are charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor (categorization of 1st and 2nd offenses).
Louisiana Cleansing Period
As mentioned before, Louisiana is one of the states that limit how prior offenses can be added to a new offense. A prior offense that occurred more than ten (10) years before the new offense, cannot be added to the new offense. For instance, if you get a DUI/DWI charge more than ten (10) years after your first, the most recent charge will be treated as your first.
However, it is important to note that if you were sentenced, either by incarceration or probation during that ten year period, your time of incarceration or probation will not count as a part of the cleansing period. The ten year cleansing period will not begin to run until your sentence is complete.
What if I’m convicted out of state?
Any DUI/DWI conviction you receive out of state will be considered a prior offense in the state of Louisiana.
How will a felony hurt me?
A felony is much more serious and consequential than a misdemeanor. Perhaps one of the most devastating impacts is the toll such a charge takes on a person’s ability to find gainful employment. Employers have the right to conduct background checks prior to hiring, and many will automatically disqualify an applicant if they see a felony charge on their record.
Licensed professionals such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and many more run into problems as well. A DUI/DWI felony conviction could mean the suspension of a license and therefore their ability to work. For many, this is a devastating blow as they can no longer participate in the work they trained for years to practice.
Lastly, obtaining auto insurance after a DUI/DWI felony becomes next to impossible. This leads to a person choosing the lowest coverage possible or avoiding driving in general. Either way, this conviction places you in a very tough financial position.
What to do if convicted of a felony DUI/DWI?
A felony charge is substantial, and it could result in large fines, jail time, license suspension, and an incredible amount of emotional strife. If you find yourself facing your third DUI/DWI offense charge, it’s critical that you arm yourself with an experienced Louisiana DUI/DWI defense attorney. At Russell Law Firm, we understand that it’s more than just a charge. It’s a terrifying, life changing event, and coming out of it with a sentence you can live with is essential to your future.
If you are in a tough spot, don’t hesitate to call us today. We’re on your side.