If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Louisiana, you need to know the possible penalties, and you need to know the importance of a strong DUI defense.

In addition to court-imposed penalties, reputation damage and job loss are possible collateral consequences of a conviction, so it is in your best interests to explore every available legal option for minimizing the impact of an arrest.

An arrest does not automatically lead to a conviction.

Many people who get arrested on suspicion of DUI simply give up and let the prosecution win. The reality is that an arrest starts a legal process during which you can challenge the prosecution and fight the charge. However, it is crucial to have an experienced DUI defense lawyer on your side as early as possible in the process.

Keep in mind that police officers are human, and they make mistakes. An error in procedure could result in a reduction or dismissal of charges. Such faults in the prosecution’s case may include:

  • Lack of reasonable suspicion
  • Lack of probable cause
  • Faulty field sobriety testing
  • Faulty chemical testing, including breath tests and blood tests

In short, do not assume you have to plead guilty. The possible favorable outcomes in a DUI case include:

  • Dismissed charge
  • Community service instead of jail time
  • Restoration of driving privileges
  • Reduced fines

Keep in mind, too, that you only have a brief period of time to request an administrative hearing.

If you want to try to keep your driving privileges after a DUI arrest (as you should), you only have 15 days to request an administrative hearing. If you don’t request the hearing, your license will be suspended. In other words, you should contact a DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options for protecting your license.

Understand what is at stake.

In Louisiana, the possible penalties for a DUI conviction include license suspension, jail time, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), and heavy fines.

Specifically, the possible penalties for a first offense include:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • A find of $300 to $1,000
  • Driver’s license suspension for one year

If the first offense involved a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.20 percent, the license may be suspended for two years.

The penalties increase significantly for subsequent convictions.

However, there may be options to have the sentence suspended if you complete certain programs and follow certain guidelines during probation. Again, talk to a DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your specific options.