A Third Louisiana OWI on You Winn Rd. Means You Lose

third-louisiana-owi-signsThe word “irony” is overused, so let’s call it a coincidence. A man was pulled over on You Winn Road in Moss Bluff, Louisiana for a traffic violation. The officer did what officers always do and checked for signs of intoxication. They were apparent: an odor of alcohol, and an open drink on the passenger seat.

The suspect, as it turned out, had two OWIs in the past 10 years, and also a suspended license for the most recent one. All of this was enough to get him booked for drunk driving, with bail set at almost $11,000.

A Third Louisiana OWI Means You Lose

Whether or not you are arrested on You Winn Road, a third Louisiana OWI is no joke. The offense carries an imprisonment requirement of one to five years, with or without hard labor. The fine is $2,000. While part of the sentence can be suspended, the first 30 days must be served.

For a third OWI, the offender’s vehicle is impounded and sold. If he eventually regains driving privileges, he will have to install an ignition interlock device. There are restrictions on possessing alcohol as well.

Why Ignition Interlocks for Repeat Offenses Matter

States vary in how seriously they treat first drunk driving convictions. But in any state, Louisiana included, a third OWI is a sign that something is seriously wrong, and the offender must be taken off the roads and dealt with. While the shock of imprisonment can turn some people’s behavior around, the best protection for society against a repeat drunk driver is an ignition interlock, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. For a third offense, an offender should have to use the device for three years, which is in fact the case in Louisiana.

One change Louisiana could make would be to add compliance-based removal – not removing the device until the offender had passed a set number of months with no failed tests or attempts to drive under the influence.

All of which makes driving drunk in Louisiana a losing proposition, even if you’re caught on You Winn Road. He might as well have been driving about an hour south in Moss Bluff, on the thoroughfare known as Bozo Road.