It is no secret that Louisiana loves to let the good times roll and New Orleans is the Big Easy. Music, food, and alcohol are some of the favorite activities with everything from the Mardi Gras to music festivals to vouch for. While it is exciting to let the good times roll the downside are the incidents of drunk driving. The number of DWI New Orleans cases and in other parts of the state is a major concern. For example, more than a thousand DWI arrests are made in Lafayette Parish every year.
That is Why it is Called ‘The Big Easy’
But many of those arrested get away with light sentences. 2012 Statistics indicate that out of over 4,500 cases over a period of three years, only 29 went to trial with 13 drivers found guilty.
Some blame culture for the lax attitude of drinking and driving. The drive-thru daiquiri huts, festivals that serve alcohol, and fundraisers like beer and martini tasting events that focus on alcohol, to name a few. While that may inspire drunk driving, with lifestyles comes responsibilities, which is what matters.
However, the problem lies in the consequences for drunken driving, which are for the most part, negligible. Louisiana does have one of the toughest DWI laws in the nation but many first time DWI New Orleans offenders have their cases settled through programs and plea bargains that allow them get away with lesser charges.
According to DWI New Orleans attorneys, first time offenders face a minimum of 10 days to a maximum of 6 months in jail. The sentence can be suspended to 2 days if the offender participates in a substance abuse program and driver improvement program approved by the court, and is placed on probation. In some cases, the sentence may be entirely suspended if the first time offender performs four 8-hour days of community service along with substance abuse and driver improvement programs.
The Punishment is a Joke
The culture does not have to change much but the punishments should increase for DUIs and so on. Locking someone up though could cost them their job, there are other forms of punishment.
This is why most DWI defendants don’t serve jail time and could even spend less than three years in jail for killing someone in a drunken driving accident. There may be a drinking culture but tougher enforcement of the law could do much to improve the situation. While there are a number of efforts made to reduce the number of drunken driving incidents on the road, many first time offenders get away.
For example, the Tipsy Taxi program by the Sheriff’s Department in Lafayette offers a free ride to those who realize they have drunk too much. However, the service is not always available late nights, which are peak drinking hours. What is required is a community effort and a change in attitude towards drinking and driving.
Enforcing the existing DWI New Orleans laws more strictly without just a slap on the wrist can discourage repeated drunken driving offenses. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Louisiana rose were up 10% from 2011 to 2012 with 241 DWI related fatalities registered in 2012. As many as 7,977 DWI arrests were made in the state in 2013.