Driving under the influence is one of the main causes of car accidents in Louisiana, and the outcome of these crashes is often fatal. In 2017, 212 people in Louisiana lost their lives in accidents caused by alcohol impairment, this accounted for 27.9 percent of all accident fatalities in the state.
Below, learn about the types of accidents caused by drunk driving as well as legal penalties for driving under the influence. If you were injured by a drunk driver, Simien & Simien’s Baton Rouge car accident attorneys will review your case and help you pursue the compensation you deserve – request a free, no obligation consultation today.
Statistics on Drunk Driving in Louisiana in 2017
- There were 23 alcohol-related driving fatalities involving victims under 21 years old. This accounted for 20.4 percent of all under 21 driving fatalities.
- Between 2008 and 2017,alcohol-related driving fatalities per 100,000 people dropped 37.5 percent. The national decline during this period was 7.1 percent. Under 21 alcohol-related fatalities dropped 25.8 percent, compared to a national decline of 28.7 percent.
- 77.1 percent of alcohol-related driving deaths involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or more. The legal BAC limit in Louisiana is 0.08.
- 6,117 arrests were made in 2017 for driving under the influence in Louisiana. Nationally, there were 1,017,808 arrests in 2017. There were 26 arrests for those under the age of 18 driving under the influence in the state, with 5,135 nationally.
Types of Accidents Caused by Drinking and Driving
Consuming alcohol impairs a person’s coordination, reaction time, judgement and other vital skills necessary for safe driving. As a result, accidents are more likely to occur. Common types of accidents caused by drinking and driving include:
- Pedestrian accidents: Vision and focus impairments cause drunk drivers to not see pedestrians, especially after dark. Alcohol-related accidents can cause severe injuries or even death to pedestrians.
- Head-on wrecks: When under the influence of drugs or alcohol, drivers may fall asleep at the wheel, causing the vehicle to drift across lanes into oncoming traffic. With vision impaired, traffic signs and signals can be misread, contributing to a head-on crash.
- Rear-end accidents: It is more difficult to judge distance when impaired, and reaction times are also delayed. Drunk drivers are not likely to quickly react when another driver stops or slows down, leading to accidents.
- Wrong-way collisions: A drunk driver who has not interpreted traffic signs correctly may turn the wrong way down a street or enter the highway going the wrong way leading to a traffic accident.
Penalties for Drunk Driving in Louisiana
Not only does drunk driving endanger the person doing the driving and others on the road, it is also against the law and offenders face stiff penalties.
If you have been caught driving under the influence for the first time, penalties are as follows:
- Incarceration: You could go to jail for 10 days minimum or a maximum of up to six months. There is a mandatory two-day jail sentence if the driver has a BAC of 0.15 or higher. Reduced or suspended sentences may be offered with participation in substance abuse treatment or community service programs or by serving 48 hours in jail.
- Driver’s License Suspension: If the driver refuses to undergo an approved chemical test for alcohol when he or she is stopped by police, his or her driver’s license is suspended for one year. If the drive caused an accident that resulted in a fatality or serious injury, the license is suspended for one year and the offender will not be eligible for a hardship license. Offenders under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.02 or higher will have their driving privileges suspended for 180 days.
- Fines: For BAC levels of 0.08 or more, the fine is between $300 to $1,000. For a BAC of 0.2 or greater, the fine is $750 to $1,000.
- Incarceration: Offenders spend a minimum of30 days in jail and can be there for up to six months. The sentence can be reduced if you are placed on probation and satisfy certain conditions, including:
- Spending 15 days in jail, performing 240 hours of community service (half of which involves a litter abatement program)
- Participating in a substance abuse program
- Participating in a driver improvement program
- Driver’s License Suspension: With a chemical test, there is a one-year suspension with no eligibility for a hardship license. Your license will be suspended for four years if you have a BAC above 0.2. You can apply for a hardship license, but your vehicle must have an ignition interlock device for three years. If a chemical test is refused, there will be a two-year suspension of driving privileges. No hardship licenses are allowed in cases of a fatality or serious bodily injury where driver intoxication is a contributing factor.
- Fines: You will be subject to monetary penalty of between $750 to $1,000 for a BAC under 0.2 percent. The fine is $1,000 for BAC of 0.2 or higher.
- Incarceration: You will be sent to jail for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years with or without hard labor. The mandatory one-year minimum gives you no chance of a suspended sentence, probation or parole benefit. After one year, the rest of your sentence could be reduced if you are placed on probation for no more than five years. The probation must include 240 hours of community services, a requirement to obtain employment, take part in a court-approved driver improvement program, take part in substance abuse treatment, and undergo evaluation by the Louisiana Department of Health.
- Driver’s License Suspension: With a chemical test, there is a mandatory one-year suspension. After that you may be issued a restricted driver's license if you have an ignition interlock in your vehicle for the length of your license suspension. You face the same type of suspension for refusing to undergo testing as you would for the second offense.
- Fines: You face a$2,000 fine for a third conviction.
Contact Simien & Simien for Help
If you were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, Simien & Simien’s Baton Rouge car accident attorneys will work hard to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Request a free, no obligation consultation today and learn your legal rights. We charge no upfront fees and payment is only due if we recover compensation for you.