New Louisiana DUI Law Bolsters Driver's License Suspensions for DUI Offenders!
By: Mary Ann Pekara
Starting on August 15, 2007, Louisiana DUI penalties are going to be tougher. Governor Kathleen Blanco has just signed a bill into a Louisiana DUI law that will cause first offenders found guilty of drunk driving to lose their licenses for 12 months as opposed to the current 3 months. Under the new Louisiana DUI law, repeat DUI offenders will lose their driver's licenses for 24 months. As for people convicted of DUI three times or more, the penalty will be a loss of driving privileges for three years.
The House and Senate in Louisiana had unanimously passed a compromised version of the original bill and passed it to the governor's desk for her approval. She had the option to veto the bill, to sign it into Louisiana DUI law or to do nothing and allow it to become law without her signature. Blanco chose to sign the bill into Louisiana DUI law without delay.
If drivers convicted of DUI are unable to find any other way to travel to and from work, school or church they may apply for a "hardship license". This type of provisional license will only be issued if the offender has an ignition interlock device installed on their primary vehicle, and then the driver would only be legal to operate the vehicle while sober and going only to work, school or church.
An ignition interlock is a device that is wired into the ignition of the vehicle. On cars in which the interlock device is installed, a driver must blow into a mouthpiece, and like a personal breath test, the machine will measure the person's blood alcohol content. If the driver has not consumed alcohol the car will start, but if the person has been drinking there is no way for them to start the vehicle.
Ignition interlock devices also often require the drivers to retest by blowing into the mouthpiece after a designated period of time to ensure that they are not literally drinking while driving and that they have not had someone else blow into the mouthpiece for them in order to get the car started.
If a person convicted of DUI in Louisiana applies for and is issued a hardship license, they must pay for the installation of the ignition interlock device themselves and keep it installed in their vehicle for the duration of their license suspension. The cost of installation of an ignition interlock device is generally in the neighborhood of $125. There is also a monthly charge of around $65 to keep the device calibrated and maintained.
The new Louisiana DUI law to crack down on drunk driving was necessary in the state. The state had the second highest number of alcohol-related deaths on its highways last year. 451 lost their lives in drunken driving accidents in Louisiana during 2006. Lawmakers hope that the new Louisiana DUI law will be effective in bringing that number down and making the roads safer for everyone.
Advocates who pushed for the new law cited statistics which show that drivers who are convicted for DUI for the first time have usually driven while drunk 87 times before their arrest.