Legislature Approves DWI Reform Package in Partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Published 9:36 am Thursday, June 15, 2023

Baton Rouge, LA – After a 32% increase in DWI fatalities between 2020 and 2021, the state recently approved House Bill 484 by Representative Rick Edmonds (R-Baton Rouge) and Senate Bill 82 – the “Bowling, Coss, and Dufrene Drunk Driving Prevention Act” –  by Senator Michael “Big Mike” Fesi (R-Houma). Both bills introduce life-saving measures aimed at reducing recidivism rates relating to drunk driving.

“Our national and state partners have been working for several years to enact proven anti-recidivism, lifesaving laws here in Louisiana. We are so thankful to Senator Fesi and Rep. Edmonds for their hard work,” said Mary-Patricia Wray, government affairs consultant to MADD.

SB82, named for three Nichols State University students who lost their lives to a drunk driver with multiple prior offenses, provides an affordability plan for defendants who install electronic monitoring devices on their vehicles reducing costs by up to 50% for indigent defendants. In addition, SB82 introduces compliance-based removal for electronic monitoring devices that requires defendants to prove they are driving sober before the device is removed from their vehicle. Defendants who have multiple violations recorded by their device will be required to drive with the device installed for a longer period of time.

“I filed my bill for the families who have already lost loved ones. Their deaths were 100% preventable,” said Sen. Fesi. “I’m proud that we will save other families from going through similar grief and unimaginable loss.”

HB484 enacts conditions for reinstatement of a driver’s license at Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .15 (nearly double the legal maximum of .08). This changes current law which implements harsher penalties at .20 BAC. HB 484’s changes target offenses that are statistically linked to higher recidivism rates, and ensure defendant’s change their behavior after their first DWI.  HB484 helps defendants by eliminating the waiting period in current law, which can keep people from getting to work and school after they are arrested for DWI. Instead, DWI defendants can drive immediately if they install electronic monitoring in their vehicles.

“I’m really proud of the work we did with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to improve Louisiana law and make data-driven changes that will save lives,” said Rep. Edmonds.

The bills, which are pending signature from the Governor prior to their August 1st effective date, have garnered support from organizations that study and implement national best standards, including:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),

  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC),

  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS),

  • National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB),

  • America Motor Vehicle Administrators Association (AMVA),

  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD),

  • American Automobile Association (AAA),

  • Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,

  • Distilled Spirits Council of the United States,

  • National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving (NASID),

  • National Safety Council,

  • Responsibility.Org, and

  • Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

For more information visit legis.la.gov.