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A Guide to DWI Lawyers and DWI Cases

DWIs are one of the most common causes of civilian arrests in the US. Thousands of people find themselves dealing with DWI charges every year and are ill-prepared to handle the paperwork, course proceedings, and obstacles the charges bring.

DWi lawyers
Dwi lawyers

It is essential to learn about DWI-related laws to both avoid and handle DWI cases.

We can start with the obvious question: what are DWIs? There might be some confusion about what constitutes a DWI and the legal processes surrounding them. The next section will make things clearer.

What is a DWI?

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) which is also known as Driving Under the Influence or DUI is a criminal driving offense and applies to individuals who operate vehicles while under the influence of controlled substances like alcohol and drugs. DWIs or DUIs are criminal offenses in all fifty states, however, only some states charge for both DWI and DWI offenses. The term that is used by Louisiana courts is DWI.

The Louisiana state law refers to a DWI as a crime where an individual operates any vessel, motor vehicle, or mode of conveyance and is either under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or has a blood alcohol concentration rate of or above 0.08 percent.

In New Orleans, combined influences of alcohol and one or more drugs while driving are also illegal. If the drugs are not controlled dangerous substances and are legally obtained with or without a prescription, the defendant can have an affirmative defense if the drug packages omitted warnings about combined usage with alcohol and if the defendant unknowingly consumed excess doses than those prescribed.

The DWI offense is two-fold in New Orleans with an administrative (civil) and criminal component. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the administrative authority in DWI offenses that oversees chemical testing of blood, breath, or urine tests to determine the consumption of controlled substances. Chemical tests are usually administered by law enforcement officers during traffic stops.

The DMV can automatically suspend licenses if a chemical test is refused by the accused because license obtainment is conditional on implied consent to chemical testing. The suspension or license revocation period will need to end before the driver can be entitled to operate motor vehicles or obtain a license.

What Happens in DWI Cases?

The proceedings of a DWI case after an arrest depend on the blood alcohol concentrations (BAC), the state laws, and the levels of DWI charges. If the BAC is over 0.15 percent or 0.20 percent, the offender might face harsher penalties for misdemeanors with additional or mandatory jail time, fines, and restrictions.

First-time and second-time DWI offenses in Louisiana are misdemeanors. A first-time charge will potentially lead to a fine of $300 to $1,000, imprisonment periods of 10 days to 6 months, two-year probation, 48 hours of community service, and enrollment in court-approved substance abuse and driver improvement programs.

A second-time offense will similarly involve fines of $750 to $1,000, jail time of 30 days to 6 months with possibility of home incarceration, 6 months of probation with 48 hours served in jail, 240 hours of community service, court-approved re-education programs, and the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device.

Third-time, fourth-time, or subsequent DWI offenses are felonies. A third-time offense can incur a $2,000 fine and imprisonment of one to five years, to be served without suspension of sentence in cases of child endangerment. One year will be served in jail without the possibility of suspension of sentence.

Courts can also implement probation periods of up to five years, 240 hours of community service, substance abuse and addiction evaluations, and 12-month outpatient treatment. Home incarcerations of six months for probations, forfeiture, and seizure of offender’s vehicle with offender’s consent, and installation of ignition interlock devices can also be mandated.

A fourth-time offense will have similar proceedings except with harsher penalties. The fine will increase to $5,000, a prison sentence of ten to 30 years, with mandatory two-year imprisonment without the possibility of suspension. Home incarceration periods will increase to one year and there will be no possibility of vehicle operation or retention.

DWI Lawyers: Their Roles and Functions in DWI Cases

Now we come to the DWI lawyer. What would a DWI lawyer do and how can they help your case? Put simply: DWI lawyers know the DWI laws and regulations in the states where they practice. Their job is to use their expertise and knowledge of the criminal system to perform the following services:

  • Educate you as their client about the charges, what the charges entail, and what are the possibilities in your case.

  • Advise you about the right strategy to take in court to limit charges or probation periods, reduce jail time, expunge your record, and return your license.

  • Assess, manage and organize all administrative details of a DWI case like essential paperwork and deadline management.

  • Represent you in court proceedings and help win your case or reduce the charges or periods of conviction.

  • Hiring a DWI lawyer at the outset of a case can be a good idea because they will help you with the following tasks:

Retaining Driving Licenses

A criminal driving offense like a DWI can cause you to lose your license for up to a year. Licenses are restricted immediately after a DWI arrest. A lawyer works to reduce DWI charges and avoid or expunge convictions so you can keep your license or have it returned.

A returned or restored license will be beneficial to defendants who rely on vehicles for work and family transportation. Expunged convictions will ensure your charges do not affect future work, contracts, insurance premiums, and your reputation.

Reducing Financial Costs

A DWI criminal case proceeding is not only taxing for the defendant, it is costly. The court will assess fees and fines and may require you to buy and maintain an ignition interlock device to regulate the operation of your car. Not to mention, high-risk insurance premiums arise as secondary costs of a DWI case as they may be increased for three years, or more, after a DWI arrest.

All of this cost money, but all of this can be solved with a lawyer. A DWI lawyer works to reduce court fees and fines payable, seeks to avoid ignition interlock device requirements and works in an attempt to reduced charges.

Building Case Strategy

One major advantage of having a DWI lawyer is that you will have someone on your side who is knowledgeable about DWI laws. Their advice will be paramount in assessing your options and strategizing your defense. Many times, they can even build up a defense to expunge your charges and convictions or lessen the charges.

For instance, DWI charges can necessitate a probation period of 90 days following a DWI conviction. A good lawyer will attempt to keep probation periods to a minimum or reduce charges to avoid probation altogether.

Navigating Court Systems

DWI lawyers know how to get the best outcome for you. They know how the system works and how to provide the best defense to the prosecution’s claims and navigate the local courts.

They will also ensure you do not fall into any traps, legal or bureaucratic, and get you through the case deadlines and proceedings.

Hiring a DWI Lawyer

All in all, hiring a DWI lawyer is a smart decision but it is important to hire the right DWI lawyer. At the offices of Gaynell Williams, you will find a group of both reliable and reputable lawyers that will provide you with high-quality legal representation.

If you require legal assistance regarding a DWI case, consult with a lawyer from the Law Offices of Gaynell Williams.


Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule. New Orleans lawyers Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law have offices in Gretna and Downtown New Orleans by appointment only.

This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may impose additional obligations on you.

© 2021 Gaynell Williams

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