Enhanceable offenses in Louisiana are offenses where a later conviction for the same crime will lead to a harsher sentence. In Louisiana, a DWI is an enhanceable offense. This means that a second DWI conviction will have harsher sentencing than a conviction for a first offense DWI. A Third offense DWI is a felony in Louisiana.
The penalty for a First Offense DWI in Louisiana is a fine of $300.00-$1,000.00, with a jail sentence of 10-180 days. That sentence can be suspended if you are sentenced to probation and participate in certain classes and/or programs. Also, you will have to participate in four 8-hour days of community service. Typically a first offense DWI will not result in any actual jail time, and none is mandatory.
The penalty for a Second Offense DWI in Louisiana is worse. A second DWI will lead to a bigger fine ($750.00-$1,000.00) and a 48-hour mandatory jail sentence. You will be subject to similar classes and/or programs, and you will have to participate in thirty, 8-hour days of community service. There is also a requirement to install an Interlock/breathalyzer device in your car for a period of time.
The penalty for a DWI 2nd is harsh, but that penalty is nothing compared to a Third Offense DWI. A “DWI 3rd” will result in a FELONY conviction with a sentence requiring 1-5 years in jail without benefit of parole or probation. This means that the statue requires that a conviction of a DWI 3rd leads to a full year in jail. The consequences of a felony conviction are also severe, and they are discussed in another blog article. A DWI 4th has a sentence of 10-30 years (and you must serve 2 of those years straight). A Fourth Offense DWI will also result in another felony conviction on your record.
Outside of DWIs, another typical enhanceable offense involves a drug conviction of possession of marijuana. A first offense possession is a misdemeanor offense in Louisiana, and like a DWI 1st, will not result in jail typically. A second conviction of possession of marijuana will result in a felony conviction. You don’t even get two misdemeanors like you do with DWIs.
Due to the harsh nature of offenses like DWI or certain drug charges, it is very important to be mindful of how to get old charges off your record. In my blog article on Article 894, 893, and Pre-Trial Diversion I will discuss the importance of these great pathways, especially if you are charged with an enhanceable offense like DWI or certain drug charges. The Lake Charles City Prosecutor, Lake Charles City Court, the 14th Judicial District Court, and the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office do offer some of these programs. You need an experienced criminal attorney to represent and advise you in these matters so that you can try to avoid the harsh nature of enhanceable offenses.