What is aggravated DWI?

What is Aggravated DWI?

what is aggravated dwiIf you or a loved one has been arrested for driving while intoxicated, you might wonder, “What is aggravated DWI?” Here are some answers to your basic questions about DWIs in Louisiana.


What is the difference between a DWI and a DUI?

In Louisiana, there is no legal difference between driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI). Both terms refer to operating a vehicle while intoxicated. This can include several situations, including:

  • Having a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher.
  • Being under the influence of controlled drugs or alcohol.
  • Being under the influence of non-controlled drugs and alcohol.
  • Being under the influence of multiple non-controlled drugs.

With that said, many question why Louisiana uses two terms for the same crime. Some states use the terms DWI and DUI interchangeably.

Conversely, several states use them as two different charges. In those states, a DUI often carries a lesser charge than a DWI. It may suggest that a driver had less than the .08 blood alcohol level required to receive a DWI but was still operating a vehicle while impaired.

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What is aggravated DWI in Louisiana?

Not all DWI charges are equal. In fact, some DWI charges are so serious that they reach the level of aggravated, or “enhanced”, DWI charges. Here are several circumstances where a driver might receive an aggravated/enhanced DWI charge instead of a standard DWI charge:

  • When a driver’s blood alcohol is well past the legal driving limit and meets or exceeds .15 percent and .20 percent.
  • If the driver repeatedly commits DWI offenses. Usually, a driver’s third and fourth DWI charges become felonies.
  • Whenever a driver has a child age 12 or younger in the vehicle while driving intoxicated.
  • Anytime that a driver’s impairment results in serious injuries or fatalities.


Are there different penalties for having multiple DWIs?

There are several consequences you should expect when you commit a DWI or aggravated DWI offense. The penalties will depend on the specifics of the charge and the effectiveness of your defense attorney. Here are a few penalties you can expect as a first-time or repeat offender.

Penalties for first-time offenses usually include a fine of up to $1,000 and six months of jail time. Additionally, you may have probation for up to two years, community service, and education requirements. For those whose first charge is an aggravated DWI, you may serve mandatory jail time, pay a higher fine, and have an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for twelve months.

While your first time DWI offense in Louisiana is often a misdemeanor, your subsequent DWI charges may be felonies. The fourth and subsequent DWI offenses typically come with the harshest punishments. These can include $5,000 fines, a ten-year minimum prison sentence, years of probation time, and 320 hours of community service. 

Additionally, you can expect substance abuse treatment, ongoing evaluations, forfeiture of your vehicle, and home incarceration.

Driving while intoxicated obviously comes with some profound consequences. But what should you do after being pulled over? These next questions will give some suggestions on what to do.


Should I accept a standard field sobriety test?

In Louisiana, there is no legal obligation to take a standard field sobriety test. Usually, an officer will ask you to perform tests after noticing signs of impairment such as swerving, speeding, or drifting. 

Additionally, they will try to identify further signs of impairment after pulling you over, such as bloodshot eyes or the odor of alcohol. By taking a test, you give them more evidence that you are an impaired driver.


What about breathalyzer or blood tests?

You can decide whether you want to take a breathalyzer or blood test. The state will use your refusal as evidence in court. Refusal by itself is not a crime and will not result in jail time if this is your first refusal in five years.

However, there are penalties for refusing testing, including license suspension. The duration of your license suspension depends on your driving history and how often you refuse breathalyzer or blood tests.


Should I work with an attorney if I am arrested for a DWI?

If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated, it is important to work with an experienced lawyer that can help. You need to be aware of legal options that can reduce penalties and jail time. 

Contact The Johnson Firm at 337-433-1414 to speak with our professional DWI lawyers. We can help you develop a strong defense, but you need to contact us as soon as possible.

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