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New program targets repeat drunk drivers in Louisiana

Lake Charles residents can get information here about a new program in Louisiana aimed at curbing repeat drunk driving.

Drunk driving is a nationwide problem that affects everyone. Residents in Lake Charles know all too well the dangers that a drunk driver can pose to innocent people.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that nine out of 24 vehicular fatalities in Calcasieu Parish in 2013 were attributed to alcohol. Only Lafayette and Orleans Parishes lost more lives to drunk drivers that year. Statewide, 703 people died in traffic accidents and 234 of those deaths happened in drunk driving accidents.

When lives are lost due to the negligence of others, the tragedy is felt far and wide. Friends, family members, co-workers and more are all left to mourn these senseless deaths. The Century Council indicates that drivers with blood levels considered excessive only increase the risk to victims. In 2011, a total of 65 percent of drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents had blood alcohol levels of at least 0.15 percent.

Repeat offenses of great concern

Of the repeat offenders involved in fatal accidents in 2011, blood alcohol levels over 0.14 percent were involved in 60 percent of the crashes. The National Conference of State Legislatures indicates that Louisiana law requires the use of an ignition interlock device for any driver convicted of an OWI offense with a blood alcohol level of 0.20 percent or higher. Other drivers may also be ordered to use an IID.

New program targets repeat offenders

In October 2014, Louisiana launched what it calls the Sobriety Court. According to the Insurance Journal, it is designed for people convicted of their third or fourth OWI offense. Instead of spending time in jail, drivers agree to remain sober for 18 months. The court monitors all participants in the program in multiple ways including:

  • Bi-weekly meetings with a judge.
  • Weekly meetings with a counselor.
  • Twice weekly substance testing.
  • Participation in substance abuse programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Monitoring devices must worn at all times and all program participants must abide by a strict 10:00 p.m. curfew. Any violation of the terms of the program can result in different penalties which could include jail time.

The program is currently utilized in Lake Charles, Lafayette, Houma, New Iberia, Morgan City and Monroe. It is not yet known if other cities or parishes will adopt this Sobriety Court program.

What can residents do to stay safe?

There are some times when accidents are not able to be avoided. Residents in Lake Charles who are involved in crashes caused by drunk drivers deserve help. Contact a lawyer right away when this happens.

Keywords: drunk driving, accident, injury