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What is the Difference Between a DWI and DUI in Louisiana?

You may be wondering- what is the difference between a DWI and DUI in Louisiana. This is a very common question clients of Barkemeyer Law Firm ask. And it is true that DWI charges and penalties vary from state to state so things can be a little tricky to understand. However, we are here to answer all of your questions in our blog post which will explain the difference between getting a DWI and DUI in Louisiana.

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Legal Matters Can Be Very Confusing!

It can be quite complicated to fully understand the language used by police, lawyers, and the court regarding driving while intoxicated, so you are probably wondering, what is the difference between a DWI and DUI in Louisiana? Some states use the term DWI, some DUI, and others like Louisiana use OWI. 

If you are ready to learn what the difference is between a DWI and DUI in Louisiana, grab your computer and settle in to learn the meanings behind the overly complicated legal terms. 

DWI v. DUI in Louisiana

The Difference Between DWIs and DUIs

While DWI and DUI refer to the same crime, they are technically different terminology. DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated and usually refers to only alcohol. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. While DUIs are normally for driving while drunk, they can also refer to when you are driving under the influence of drugs. 

However, in other states, they will sometimes use OUI and OWI. While these refer to driving under the influence, they are more legal terminology. OUI stands for Operating Under the Influence, and OWI is Operating With Intoxication. Louisiana usually uses either DWI or OWI in its courts. 

PRO TIP: Read our article to learn what happens if you get a DWI in Louisiana.

Understanding DWIs and DUIs in Louisiana

When it comes to Louisiana, there is no difference between a DWI and DUI. However, usually, in Louisiana, it will be referred to as an OWI instead of a DWI or DUI, though DWI is also used. This is why it is important to understand that DWI, DUI, OWI, and OUI all refer to the same in the courts. 

No matter the terminology, they all refer to someone operating a motorized vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To be convicted of a DWI or OWI in Louisiana, you must first be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is proved by taking a breath test, on which you must have a blood alcohol content higher than .08%.

what's the difference between a DWI and DUI in Louisiana?

What Qualifies as Driving While Intoxicated

Now that you know what DWIs and DUIs are, it is important to understand what qualifies as a DWI or DUI. You can find the main qualifications in the list below. 

  • You are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 
  • Your BAC is 0.08% or higher. 
  • You are under the influence of a federally controlled substance under Schedule I, II, III, or IV.
  • You are under the influence of a combination of both alcohol and drugs that are not controlled and can be obtained with or without a doctor’s prescription. 
  • You are found to be under the influence of one or more drugs that can be obtained with or without a doctor’s prescription. 

A police officer will usually have you take a breath test to see if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Remember, you are legally required to take the test, or you can have your license suspended for a year. 

DWI Convictions in Louisiana

If you find yourself being convicted of a DWI in Louisiana, there are several penalties you can expect to suffer. These include probation, community service hours, suspended driver’s license, jail time, and being fined. The penalties you suffer will be decided based on your BAC and whether or not you have had DWIs in the past. 

Your first two convictions are usually considered misdemeanors, but further DWIs are counted as felonies and will come with much higher penalties. Even though felonies come with higher penalties, if you have multiple DWIs past two, you will increasingly suffer higher penalties. 

Jail Time for DWIs

For your first DWI, you can expect to potentially receive six days to three months of jail time, though this can be shortened by serving additional community service hours. On your second DWI, your jail sentence can not last six months but is often much longer than you received for your first offense. 

After your first two DWIs, you can expect the jail time to increase exponentially. However, it can not surpass five years. On top of all those years in prison, you will also be fined, have your license suspended from two years to indefinitely, and hundreds of hours of community service hours. 

PRO TIP: Read our article do I really need a lawyer for a DWI?

Summary: What’s The Difference Between A DWI And DUI In Louisiana?

The bottom line is this. If you are facing either DWI or DUI charges in Louisiana, it’s crucial that you hire a criminal defense attorney or DWI lawyer. Barkemeyer Law Firm handles hundreds if not thousands of DWI cases annually. Our team of DWI lawyers are here to help you through these charges.

You should now better understand the difference between a DWI and DUI in Louisiana and we wish you luck!


Louisiana DWI & Criminal Lawyers

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Louisiana criminal lawyers and DWI attorneys at the Barkemeyer Law Firm providing legal defense services for clients in Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Port Allen, Alexandria, New Orleans, Lafayette, Metairie, Kenner, Gretna, Hahnville, Chalmette, Slidell, St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. John, St. Bernard, Mandeville, Covington, Shreveport, Bossier, Jefferson, Monroe, Lake Charles and all of Louisiana.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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