Tougher DWI regulations now in effect

Published 6:03 pm Sunday, January 4, 2015

As Louisiana ushered in 2015, Louisiana enacted some new laws to go along with the new calendar year. The state adopted approximately 22 new laws.

Some of the new laws targeted drinking and driving, smokers, and updating rape kits that were gathering dust on crime lab shelves.

Individuals caught driving while intoxicated will find laws regarding Louisiana’s DWI policy more stringent. Under the new law, first-time offenders may face a minimum of 10 days in jail, with 32 hours of community service. Drivers under the age of 21 found to be under the influence will face a minimum of 10 days in jail. A second offense for DWI can carry with it 30 days in jail.

The new law is a way to provide a clear picture for judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys of what is required when an individual is convicted of DWI, according to various reports.

Under the previous Louisiana statute regarding DWI, penalties for a first offense included a license suspension of up to 90 days or a six-month suspension for underage offenders. Additional penalties included jail time of up to six months and fines of up to $1,000, in addition to court costs.

Second time offenders were previously subject to a mandatory 48 hours in jail or 48 hours of community service in addition to a 45-day suspension of driving privileges.

Regarding smoking, the new law bans lighting up within 25 feet of a public entrance and wheelchair ramps at all state buildings.

In an effort to help rape victims — and in light of several negative reports that have surfaced about huge numbers of untested rape kits and rape-kit charges faced by victims — starting Jan. 1, 2015, law enforcement agencies around the state were required to count the number of untested rape kits on shelves in an effort to cut down on the backlog of cases. The new law requires law enforcement agencies to report the number to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab.

Other laws enacted include permitting 16-year-olds to be allowed to register to vote when they receive their driver’s licenses. They will not be allowed to actually vote until they turn 18 years of age, however.

Also, Louisiana driver’s licenses can now be adorned with university logos. Individuals will have to pay an extra undetermined fee for the privilege of sporting a university logo on their license. That fee is on top of the regular fee for licenses.

A number of new laws center around elections in Louisiana.

Before 2015, political parties in the state were forbidden to be named an “Independent” political party.

Also, political office candidates must report purposes of all expenditures made from campaign accounts. Reports say the reason behind the law was to make politicians justify their campaign spending.