new louisiana dwi laws 2024
10Jul

New Louisiana DWI Laws Created in 2024

The Louisiana Legislature really went after the DWI laws in 2024. They essentially made everything more difficult on those who are arrested for DWI in Louisiana. Particularly, they greatly increased the time offenders will be required to have the ignition interlock device installed. It seems to me that maybe the ignition interlock device companies lobbied hard to get the legislators to pass these laws so offenders have to pay to have these devices for longer periods of time; therefore making the device companies more money. Whatever the reason for the changes, it is another example of how Louisiana is one of the toughest states to get arrested in.

If you got arrested for a DWI and are looking for more information, see below:

Act 662 effective 8/1/24: Amends statutes to reflect “impaired”

The new law under La. R.S. 14:98 removes “intoxicated” and replaces the term with “impaired.” The new law, effective 8/1/24, now reads:

Operating a vehicle while impaired

A(1) The crime of operating a vehicle while impaired is the operating of any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance when any of the following conditions exist:

(a) The operator is under the influence of impaired by alcoholic beverages.

(b) The operator’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood.

(c) The operator is impaired by any other drug, combination of drugs, or combination of alcohol and drugs.

The new law removes (d) and (e) which was convoluted language regarding being under the influence of drugs, etc.

The new law adds:

(3) As used in this Section, the term “drug” means any substance or combination of substances that, when taken into the human body, can impair the ability of the person to operate a vehicle safely.

Act 9 effective 7/1/24: DWI Ignition Interlock Device

La. R.S. 14:98.1(A)(1)(d)

The new law requires the judge in the criminal case shall order that the offender not operate a motor vehicle during the period of probation, for no less than six months, unless any vehicle, while being operated by the offender, is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device.

Previously, judges were hands-off when it came to requiring the ignition interlock after sentencing and while the offender was on probation. At sentencing for DWI, judges would even make clear to the offender that the judge was not suspending his/her license and not requiring the ignition interlock device. That determination was made by the DMV. Only the DMV can suspend a driver’s license. The DMV would then require the ignition interlock device as a condition to issuing a hardship license to a driver who has applied for one. The driver would apply for a hardship license after a DWI conviction because once the DMV gets notice of the conviction from the clerk of court, the DMV would then issue a suspension for one year for a DWI first offense conviction. Therefore, the suspension and ignition interlock requirement were left up strictly to the DMV.

This law change requires the judge to order the offender to have the ignition interlock device if he/she is driving for the entire period of probation. The length of time for probation in a DWI case vary depending on the case and the judge’s policies. Nevertheless, the judge now has the burden of monitoring this required condition of probation that he/she must order. The judge can do this in different ways. The judge could place the offender on supervised probation and have the probation officer monitor the completion of this condition. Basically, the offender would have to present the written certification of installation to the probation officer and present periodic updates from the ignition interlock installer.

On the other hand, the judge could set a review or execution of sentence hearing to have the offender bring in proof of the ignition interlock device. Either way, the judge must ensure this condition is completed throughout the entire period of probation. Otherwise, it would be a violation of probation, which could lead to revocation of probation and the six-month jail sentence to be executed.

Who Does This Affect the Most?

This law change not only places a greater burden on the judges, probation officers, and court system, but it will now affect out-of-state defendants. Before this law change, if a defendant with an out-of-state driver’s license was convicted of DWI, his out-of-state license may or may not get suspended. The Louisiana DMV can only suspend a Louisiana license. The Louisiana DMV could suspend the Louisiana driving privileges an out-of-state driver, but not suspend his out-of-state license. Therefore, the out-of-state defendant who was convicted of DWI could just go back to his state and possibly continue to drive there without the ignition interlock device. The law change now eliminates that as a possibility.

The convicted defendant may now have to install the ignition interlock device as a condition of probation, regardless of the fact that his out-of-state license is not suspended. La. R.S. 32:378.2(G) states if the court imposes the use of an ignition interlock device as a term of probation on a person whose driving privilege is not suspended or revoked, the court shall require the person to provide proof of compliance to the court or the probation officer within thirty days. If the person fails to provide proof of installation within that period, absent a finding by the court of good cause for that failure which is entered into the court record, the court shall revoke the person’s probation.  Therefore, even if the DMV does not suspend a driver’s license, the criminal court judge still must require the ignition interlock for those who are convicted of DWI.

Elimination of “First Twelve Months”

Before the law change, if a defendant was convicted of DWI first offense, they would only be required to have the ignition interlock device for the first twelve months of their probation. This is because the DMV would suspend their license for twelve months for a DWI first offense conviction. The DMV would then require the ignition interlock for 12 months to get the hardship license, along with proof of a SR-22 insurance certificate.

The new law changes in La. R.S. 14:98.1(A)(3)(c) eliminates the twelve-months and says that the defendant must have the ignition interlock device for the entire period of probation. This is impactful in cases where the judge orders probation longer than one year. Many judges order two years of probation. Therefore, the defendant will now be required to have the ignition interlock for two years after the conviction even though his license will only be suspended for one year by the DMV.

Previously, if the driver blew .15 BAC or above, his/her license would be suspended for two years for the DWI first-offense conviction. The DMV would require the ignition interlock device for the first twelve months as a condition of obtaining the hardship license. Now, the DMV is requiring the ignition interlock device for the entire two years of the suspension. La. R.S. 32:378.2(B)(1)(a)(ii)(aa) and La. R.S. 32:414(A)(1)(c)(i).

Submittal Over the Limit

The new law under La. R.S. 32:667(B)(1)(a) now states that if a person submits to a chemical test (breathalyzer, urine, blood) and the BAC is .08 or above but below .15, the driving privileges will be suspended for 180 days. Previously, the suspension period was 90 days.

If the driver tests .15 BAC or above for first violation, his driving privileges will be suspended for two years. Before the law change, he/she could have a hardship license with an ignition interlock for only the first 12 months. Now, the driver must have the ignition interlock for the entire two years of the suspension.

Condition of Reinstatement – Refusal First Offense

This is a very impactful change. According to the new law in La. R.S. 32:667(I)(1)(a), if a driver refuses the chemical tests upon first refusal, he/she must install the ignition interlock device as a condition of reinstatement. This means that upon receiving their regular license back after a suspension, they must still have the ignition interlock for at least six months to reinstate their regular license. Previously, this requirement was for second refusal.

Credit for Time Installed

According to the new law in La. R.S. 32:668(D), any person whose license is suspended, revoked, or is subject to installation of an ignition interlock device pursuant to R.S. 32:667(I) or R.S. 14:98, 98.1, 98.2, 98.3, or 98.4 shall receive credit for the time period of which the ignition interlock device was installed.

Date Applied

These new laws under Act 9 apply to offenses committed on and after July 1, 2024.

Carl Barkemeyer wrote the published book on DWI: Practical Information for the Accused and Attorneys in Louisiana. He regularly gives lectures and advice to other attorneys regarding how to successfully defend clients for DWI.
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