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Louisiana’s DWI Child Endangerment Law
25Oct

Everything you need to know about Louisiana’s DWI Child Endangerment Law

If you are interested in learning about Louisiana’s DWI Child Endangerment Law, you have found the right article. Louisiana takes child safety seriously and has implemented laws to protect minors under the age of 12 who are subjected to harm, and whose mental or physical health is compromised. This means injury does not have to occur for a child to be endangered. Let’s explore the ins-and-outs of Louisiana’s DWI Child Endangerment Law.

What does the Louisiana State Legislature say about DWI Child Endangerment?

Louisiana’s § RS 14:98 statue is lengthy and consists of many subsections. To view the full legislature, visit the Louisiana State Legislature website for additional subsections. 

For starters, if you are unfamiliar with legal jargon, DWI stands for “driving while impaired or intoxicated.” Child endangerment is the compromise of the physical or mental well-being and safety of a minor ages 12 and under. The law is designed to protect the safety of minors who are in harm’s way by an adult who is operating a vehicle while impaired or intoxicated.

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Here is (part of) Louisiana’s § RS 14:98 specifics:

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated

            A.(1) The crime of operating a vehicle while intoxicated 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 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 under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V as set forth in R.S. 40:964.

            (d)(i) The operator is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.

            (ii) It shall be an affirmative defense to any charge under this Subparagraph that the label on the container of the prescription drug or the manufacturer’s package of the drug does not contain a warning against combining the medication with alcohol.

            (e)(i) The operator is under the influence of one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.

            (ii) It shall be an affirmative defense to any charge under this Subparagraph that the operator did not knowingly consume quantities of the drug or drugs that substantially exceed the dosage prescribed by the physician or the dosage recommended by the manufacturer of the drug.

            (2) A valid driver’s license shall not be an element of the offense, and the lack thereof shall not be a defense to a prosecution for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

            B.(1) This Subsection shall be cited as the “Child Endangerment Law”.

            (2) When the state proves, in addition to the elements of the crime as set forth in Subsection A of this Section, that a minor child twelve years of age or younger was a passenger in the motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of motorized conveyance at the time of the commission of the offense:

            (a) Except as provided in Subparagraphs (b) and (c) of this Paragraph, the execution of the minimum mandatory sentence provided by R.S. 14:98.1 or 98.2, as appropriate, shall not be suspended.

            (b) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if imprisonment is imposed pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 14:98.3, the execution of the minimum mandatory sentence shall not be suspended.

            (c) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if imprisonment is imposed pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 14:98.4, the execution of the minimum mandatory sentence shall not be suspended.

Now, if you’re reading this section of the law (and there are plenty more pages and sections to it) and are confused with the legal jargon, it is simply stating that it is prohibited to operate any kind of vehicle while

  1. Under the influence of alcohol
  2. BAC levels exceed 0.08 percent
  3. Under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance
  4. Under the influence of a combination of alcohol or drugs purchased with or without a prescription
  5. Under the influence of a drug purchased legally with or without a prescription

And that if a minor age 12 or younger is present in the vehicle, any penalties associated with a DWI cannot be suspended if child endangerment is also involved.

The Penalties of a DWI Child Endangerment Conviction

The penalties of a DWI Child Endangerment Conviction can vary based on an individual’s specific circumstance. You can be charged with child endangerment even if it was unintentional. It is best to seek legal advice from an attorney that specializes in criminal cases involving minors and traffic laws. 

A conviction can result in the following penalties but are subject to change based on the number of offenses:

  • 10 days to 10 years of jail time
  • Probation
  • Fines ranging $300 to $10,000
  • Community service
  • Future employment restrictions
  • Mandatory educational programs
  • Loss of driving privileges or driving restrictions

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Avoiding a DWI Child Endangerment Violation

This might seem like common sense, but every once in a while, adults need reminders. To avoid legal troubles, traffic violations, and more serious child endangerment charges, avoid being in a circumstance that could put yourself at risk. 

If you decide to participate in the use of alcohol or drugs, take necessary precautions for the safety of yourself and others. Arrange for a designated driver and hire a caregiver to look after any children ages 12 and under. Be safe and make smart decisions. 

Everything you need to know about Louisiana’s DWI Child Endangerment Law

Louisiana takes DWI Child Endangerment seriously. The use of alcohol and drugs in conjunction with the operation of a motor vehicle and compromised safety of a minor can have very negative consequences. Don’t drive while impaired or intoxicated, especially with the presence of a minor. This is everything you need to know about Louisiana’s DWI Child Endangerment Law. 

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

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