DWI look back period in Louisiana

Updated: May. 17, 2019 at 10:17 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Back in April, officers arrested Rickey Jeanise of Carencro after he allegedly led them on a chase from Lake Charles into Sulphur.

“Well this particular individual has had about 5 DWIs prior to this one," Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier said. "Unfortunately for the criminal justice system, we cannot use any convictions that are older than 10 years to prosecute someone for the enhanced offense.”

DeRosier says it’s called the “look back” or “cleansing” period. It’s the length of time that a drunk driving offense can be used against the driver’s in future charges or sentencing. In Louisiana, that’s ten years, meaning although Jeanise faced his 6th D-W-I he won’t be charged as such.

“He can only be charged as a first offender because all of his convictions are more than 10 years ago," DeRosier said. "No convictions older than 10 years can be used against a criminal defendant in a DWI case and that’s what you have here.”

A drunk driving charge isn’t the only crime that has a cleansing period in Louisiana. Other non-violent crimes have similar look back periods; marijuana possession has a two year cleansing period.

“I think there have been instances to change that ten years rule with no success," DeRosier said. "We have increased the penalties for 3rd and 4th offense DWI’s over the last few years but there have been no successful efforts to change the 10 year cleansing period.”

For many crimes, that look back period was reduced when a sweeping criminal justice bill was signed into law in 2017 to reduce the number of those incarcerated in Louisiana.

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