Guide to Louisiana DWI License Suspensions

by Nicholas Lindner on Apr. 26, 2016

Criminal DUI-DWI Criminal 

Summary: A guide to the laws regarding driver's license suspensions and their lengths an arrested person in Louisiana faces when charged with a DWI

Guide to Louisiana DWI License Suspensions

 

            An important concern by anyone who receives a DWI is the length of time, if any, his or her driver’s license will be suspended as a result of the arrest.  The law in Louisiana is complicated in this matter and changes frequently, however this guide contains a synopsis of the law as current through April 2016.

            Two laws form the basis of a DWI-related suspension.  The first is the “automatic” suspension that is triggered by a DWI arrest.  The Office of Motor Vehicles institutes this suspension in connection with La. R.S. 32:667.  The suspension is governed by administrative law and an administrative law judge, not the trial judge who will proceed over the criminal aspect of the DWI case.  The second type of suspension can be part of a mandatory sentence of a judge under the DWI statute upon conviction, under La. R.S. 14:98 et seq.

The “Automatic” Administrative Suspension

            Upon a DWI arrest, the Office of Motor Vehicles will immediately begin proceedings to suspend the arrestee’s driver’s license.  This is the most common form of suspension in connection with a DWI.  Upon arrest, the arrested person has 30 days to request an administrative hearing, or the license will be suspended automatically.  If the hearing request is properly made, the suspension will not occur unless and until an administrative law judge affirms it, either after a hearing or by the arrestee failing to attend the hearing.  The basis of the suspension is either:

1.       Refusal to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) in connection with a DWI.

2.       Submitting to a chemical test, which yields a resulting BAC level of .08 or greater (.02 or greater for drivers under the age of 21).

If the administrative law judge affirms the proposed suspension, the OMV will suspend the arrestee’s license in accordance with the following time periods:

            Upon a first refusal – 1 year.

            Upon a second refusal within 10 years – 2 years

 

Submission yielding result .08 to .199 – 90 days first offense; 365 days on second or subsequent offense within 5 years.

 

Submission yielding result .20 or greater – 2 years first offense; 4 years second offense.

 

Underage DWI Submission yielding .02 to .079 – 6 months

 

On a first offense, the driver will be eligible for a hardship license upon proving his vehicle has been equipped with an interlock device.

Note:  A CDL holder faces additional disqualification under  La. R.S. 32:412.2

 

Post-Conviction Suspension

According to La. R.S. 32:414, the OMV may suspend anyone who has been convicted of a first offense DWI for a period of one year, to run concurrent with any pre-conviction suspension.  On a first offense conviction, the judge must sentence a suspension of two years, if the defendant is convicted with a BAC of .20 or higher.  On a second conviction where the defendant had a BAC of .20 or higher, the mandatory suspension is four years.

Conclusion

            The legislative scheme involving driver’s license suspensions in connection with a DWI arrest is complicated.  Two separate courts often have authority over the suspensions, thus it is important to hire a lawyer early on to protect your driving privileges.  Additional factors, such as Article 894 acquittals, can affect the length of an actual suspension.  This article is intended to give a general explanation of the law, not legal advice.  If you have been arrested for a DWI, you need an experienced attorney to explain your options and protect your rights.

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