Everyone knows that having a conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) on your record can have consequences that will follow you for the rest of your life – including lost education opportunities and fewer career prospects. A DWI conviction is serious business, but there are certain aggravating factors that can make the consequences of a conviction even more severe for the driver.
The Louisiana legislature has listed one factor in particular that can make your DWI charges more severe. If you have a child younger than 13 in the car when the police pull you over for driving under the influence, the penalties increase.
In addition to that, the penalties increase considerably for each subsequent DWI conviction that you receive.
Most of the penalties of a first-time DWI are left up to the judge’s discretion. In other words, there is a set penalty that Louisiana’s statutes establish, but a judge could suspend some or all of these penalties in favor of probation if they feel that justice requires them to do so.
However, if you had a child younger than 13 years old at the time of your arrest, the judge will not have the discretion to set aside these penalties – they will have to enforce them as written.
On your first offense, you may spend from 10 days to 6 months in jail, and have to pay a fine of $300 to $1,000. At your second offense, the jail time increases to one to six months, and the fine increases to $750 to $1,000. Finally, if you receive a third conviction (which is a felony), you could spend from one to five years in jail, and pay a $2,000 fine.
The court could also suspend your drivers’ license, and could mandate the installation of an ignition interlock device in all of your vehicles at your expense.
Having a DWI conviction on record can be devastating. However, it’s important to remember that a charge isn’t a conviction. If you have a DWI charge, you still have the chance to work with an attorney to prepare and present a defense to the charges.