Do I Need an Attorney for DWI in Louisiana?

If you’re here, you may be in a bad situation. If you or someone you know has run in to a problem with a DWI arrest, then you’ve come to the right place. 

This situation can be dire, or it can be minimally painful. All this depends on what’s happened. The question you wondering is: do I need an attorney for a DWI arrest in Louisiana?  Well you are going to learn the answer to that question in this post and we hope we clear up any other questions you may have!

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Do I Need An Attorney For DWI In Louisiana


Firstly, it is important to note that there is a difference between DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DUI (driving under the influence). 

Driving while intoxicated or impaired generally refers to alcohol consumption. Driving under the influence can be much more broad and refers to alcohol or drug influence while driving. 

The state of Louisiana keeps them both under the blanket charge of DWI. So, you could receive this charge for any alcohol or drug related driving.

PRO TIP: Read our recent blog post and learn the answer to the question – do I need to go to court for drug charges in Louisiana.

Important Considerations When Arrested For DWI

When contemplating do I need an attorney for DWI in Louisiana, there are some important factors you should consider. Here are some things to think about when deciding upon whether to hire a criminal defense attorney for impending DWI charges.

Did You Fail the Tests?

The most common way for a police officer to test your sobriety is from a Breathalyzer and/or Field Sobriety Test. 

If you seem unsteady in the field sobriety test or are unable to answer the officer’s questions in a manner they see fit: you fail.

If you blow into a Breathalyzer and the reading comes back above .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): you fail.

The Breathalyzer is hard to beat. 

But if you believe you are soberer and fit then the Breathalyzer states, you can challenge it.

If you fail the Field Sobriety Test, but if you believe you have something else impairing your ability to pass the test besides drugs or alcohol: you can challenge it.

If you have the ability to defend yourself against these tests, then you may defend yourself. However, if you feel yourself unable to properly conduct yourself in court, it may be best to find an attorney that can.

Is there Evidence Against You?

Driving with an open bottle of alcohol can be a serious offense. Open bottles are one of several things that could be used against you in a DWI arrest. 

If you passed both tests, but the officer believes you to be unsteady, and you have evidence harmful to your case in the vehicle, you can be arrested for DWI.

Unless you can probably defend the evidence against you in court, you may want a litigator by your side.

Which Offense?

If you are a multiple offender. You may want to find legal help. Although, DWI is only viewed as a misdemeanor, things can get serious very quickly.

First Offense DWI Charges: 

Usually comes with a fine ranging from $300-$1,000. There can also be a short stint in jail (anywhere from 10 days to 6 months) along with a probationary period. The judge may even sentence you to an alcohol rehab program and community service.

Second Offense DWI: 

The minimum fine is $750 and you are much more likely to spend one to six months in jail. You will certainly find yourself in a probationary period with a likelihood of returning to jail each night. There court will most often mandate substance abuse training.

Third Offense: 

The fine will be a minimum of $2,000, and you will spend 1-5 years in prison. You will also be required to perform community service and undergo psychological evaluation.

Other Offenses: 

The previous offenses are simple DWI offenses. The officer may find more charges to bring on you, such as: wreck less driving, public endangerment, or even manslaughter (in the most extreme cases).

Unless you have an understanding of the charges brought against you, and how to argue and appeal for a lighter sentence, you will want to hire an attorney.


Attorneys aren’t cheap. You will even have to pay the government for the cost of a Court-Appointed Attorney if you cannot find one for yourself. 

If you admitting to wrongdoing, it may be more cost-effective to pay the fine and serve your sentence.

If you are a multiple offender, or believe you are innocent of the charges brought against you, an attorney to help fight your battle may be worth the cost.

Is an Attorney Necessary For DWI Charges In Louisiana?

The short answer is: no. Everyone has the right to refuse an attorney, but you may want to review your options

  • If you feel unable to properly conduct or defend yourself, then you should seek an attorney. 
  • If your charges are severe then you should have an attorney present. 
  • If the cost of a DWI is greater than attorney fee, then you should seek legal help.

If you feel as if you have the ability to defend yourself, and would rather pay the fine and go on your merry way, then feel free to deny an attorney. However, it is never a bad idea to seek help and will pay off massively in the long run.

Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help With Your DWI

Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney is a DWI and criminal law firm located in Louisiana.  We defend clients facing DWI charges around the clock and can help you with any charges you may be facing. We are very good at building winning DWI defenses so be sure to contact us for a consultation.

Don’t forgo hiring a criminal defense attorney if you are facing a DWI in Louisiana. DWI charges are serious charges and it’s best to consult with a lawyer who knows the law and is experienced with these types of cases. 


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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