2024 Alcohol Limits for Louisiana Drivers

Drink and drive laws in Louisiana

In Louisiana, the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is set at 0.08%, or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, beyond which they are considered legally intoxicated.

Please be aware that this article aims to educate readers on Louisiana’s drunk driving laws. This piece does not intend to endorse or promote drunk driving in any manner.

What is the legal alcohol limit for driving in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, the legal alcohol limit for drivers varies based on the category of the driver’s license and the age of the driver. The state has established specific blood alcohol content (BAC) thresholds to promote road safety and prevent impaired driving. Below are the legal limits for different driver categories:

  • Regular Drivers: The legal BAC limit is 0.08%. This applies to most drivers operating personal vehicles.
  • Commercial Drivers: For those holding a commercial driver’s license, the legal limit is set at a lower threshold of 0.04%, reflecting the higher responsibility associated with operating commercial vehicles.
  • Minors (Under 21): Louisiana enforces a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. It is illegal for minors to operate a vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.

Drink and Drive Penalties and Punishments in Louisiana

In Louisiana, the consequences of driving under the influence (DUI) or operating while intoxicated (OWI) are serious and designed to deter impaired driving. For individuals convicted of these offenses, the penalties are structured to escalate with the severity of the violation, particularly for first-time offenders. Here’s a breakdown of the key penalties and punishments for a first offense, along with other relevant information regarding license suspension due to various reasons:

Operating While Intoxicated: First Offense Penalties

  1. Fines: Offenders are subject to a fine ranging from $300 to $1,000.
  2. Imprisonment: A jail term ranging from ten days to six months is mandatory, with possible suspension under specific probation conditions that include:
    • A minimum of 48 hours in jail or, alternatively, a minimum of 32 hours of court-approved community service, half of which must be in a litter abatement or collection program.
    • Participation in a court-approved substance abuse program and possibly an assessment for a substance abuse disorder.
    • Participation in a court-approved driver improvement program.
    • A court order may restrict the offender from operating a motor vehicle unless it’s equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device, complying with specific state regulations.
  3. Additional Penalties for High BAC Levels:
    • For a BAC of 0.15% to less than 0.20%, a minimum of 48 hours of the sentence must be served without parole, probation, or suspension. The driver’s license will be suspended for two years.
    • For a BAC of 0.20% or more, a fine of $750 to $1,000 is imposed, with the same minimum jail time and a two-year license suspension. An ignition interlock device is required during the probation period.

The laws and penalties described are subject to change. For the most current information regarding DUI/OWI penalties and procedures in Louisiana, individuals are strongly encouraged to frequently check the official state website or consult legal experts. This practice ensures up-to-date compliance and understanding of the legal landscape surrounding impaired driving in Louisiana.

Calculating Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in Louisiana

In Louisiana, as in the rest of the United States, law enforcement officers utilize several methods to determine if a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. The most common method is the use of breathalyzer tests at traffic stops or following a traffic incident. These devices measure the alcohol concentration in the breath, which correlates to the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A BAC reading of 0.08% or higher is considered illegal for standard drivers, while commercial drivers face stricter limits, and minors are prohibited from having any detectable alcohol in their system.

As an experienced phlebologist with a decade of professional experience, I recommend the following two methods to check your BAC level:

  1. Use a High-Quality Alcohol Breathalyzer: For those seeking a reliable way to measure their BAC, the BACtrack S80 is an excellent choice. It is recognized for its professional-grade accuracy and has been approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) & National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in addition to being FDA 510(k) cleared. Keeping a device like the BACtrack S80 in your vehicle can be a wise decision, especially in Louisiana where it’s common for individuals to underestimate their level of impairment. The device’s accuracy can help you make informed decisions about your ability to drive safely.
  2. Utilize My BAC Calculator: Alongside other phlebologists and with the assistance of web developers, I have developed an online BAC calculator. This tool is designed to estimate your BAC level based on the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed, your weight, and the time elapsed since your first drink. It’s an accessible way to get a rough idea of your BAC level before deciding to drive.

It’s crucial to remember that while both the BACtrack S80 and our online BAC calculator offer valuable insights into your level of intoxication, they do not provide 100% accurate results. Factors such as metabolism, medication, and health conditions can affect your actual BAC. Therefore, these tools should be used as guides to help you make safer choices regarding driving after consuming alcohol. If there’s any doubt about your sobriety, the safest decision is not to drive.

Ways to Avoid Driving with a High BAC in Louisiana

Drink beer and drive in Louisiana

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense in Louisiana, with stringent penalties for those who exceed the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limits. Fortunately, there are several practical alternatives to driving yourself home after consuming alcohol, ensuring both your safety and that of others on the road. Here are some effective strategies to avoid driving with a high BAC in Louisiana:

  1. Use Ride-Sharing Apps or Local Taxi Services: Technology has made it easier than ever to find a safe ride home. Apps like Uber and Lyft offer convenient, on-demand transportation services that can be accessed directly from your smartphone. For those who prefer traditional taxi services, local companies are also a great option. In New Orleans, for example, Bike Taxi Unlimited Pedicabs offers an eco-friendly way to get around, while Metro Taxi Service LLC provides reliable rides in Baton Rouge. These services are readily available and can be a safer alternative to driving after drinking.
  2. Order a Designated Driver Service: If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve driven to a location and consumed alcohol, leaving your car behind might not be your preferred option. In such cases, designated driver services are a fantastic solution. These services provide a driver who will drive you home in your own vehicle, ensuring both you and your car arrive safely. Southern Chauffeur Services in New Orleans and Baton Rouge Driving Service in Baton Rouge are examples of companies that offer such services. A simple Google search for “designated driver service” followed by your city name will help you find similar services in your area.

By planning ahead and opting for any of these alternatives, you can enjoy your social outings without the risk of driving with a high BAC. Not only do these options promote your safety, but they also help in adhering to the state’s DUI laws, ultimately contributing to a safer driving environment in Louisiana. Remember, the best strategy is prevention, and making use of these services can be a key part of responsible alcohol consumption and road safety.

Sticking to DUI Laws in Louisiana: Sad Statistics

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in Louisiana. In 2020, the state recorded 828 fatal crashes due to impaired driving, with 28% of these involving drivers with a BAC over 0.08%.

Louisiana strictly enforces DUI laws to deter drunk driving. It’s crucial to check your BAC level before driving to ensure it’s below the legal limit.

Consider using a reliable breathalyzer, hiring a designated driver, or opting for rideshare services like Uber or a taxi as alternatives to driving after drinking.

Stay informed about DUI laws by regularly visiting Louisiana’s official website. Remember, driving intoxicated poses severe risks; always choose safety and avoid driving after consuming alcohol.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.