There’s a little-known provision in Louisiana’s laws that’s suddenly getting a lot of attention after remaining mostly unnoticed, for more than 20 years. This provision could be bad news for anybody with a couple DWIs on their record if they get into trouble again.
A third conviction can cost you more than you expect
Louisiana Revised Statute 14:98 permits the district attorney to seize and sell the vehicle that was used by a drunk driver if that driver is convicted of their third (or subsequent) DWI. While the law has been on the books since the 1990s, most law enforcement agencies were unaware of it, so it was seldom used.
That may soon be changing, if what’s happening in St. Charles Parish is any indication. In a joint statement, Sheriff Greg Champagne and District Attorney Joel Chaisson II announced that they will be using the provision in future cases. Plus, they plan to look at any drunk driving cases involving habitual offenders that they’ve handled in the last three months.
More areas in the state are likely to follow
Now that the provision has gained attention, its use is likely to spread throughout the state in the future. Vehicle seizures are imposed on habitual offenders in addition to any other penalties they may face because of their convictions, and there are limits. A car can’t be seized, for example, if there’s still an outstanding bank loan on it, if it was stolen or the owner had loaned it out to someone without knowing that person was driving while impaired.
Once seized, the vehicles will be auctioned off, with 60% of the proceeds going to the arresting agency and the remaining 40% divided between the district attorney’s office and the Louisiana Property and Casualty Insurance Commission (LPCIC).
If you’re facing a DWI charge here in Lafayette or elsewhere in Louisiana, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. You need an experienced defense attorney to protect your future.