In the following section, we will discuss the fault system and other state laws that you need to know.
The Fault System
Louisiana is an at-fault driver state, which means the driver at fault is liable for the other driver’s losses involved in the accident. This includes property damage and bodily injuries.
The state of Louisiana is a pure comparative negligence state, which means the drivers can split the costs of the damages according to their degrees of fault. For instance, if one driver is responsible for 30 percent of the accident, that driver would need to pay 30 percent of the total losses.
Louisiana doesn’t require drivers to have uninsured motorist coverage. The state allows unstacked insurance coverage only. This means if you own multiple vehicles, you can’t combine your policies to increase uninsured/underinsured bodily injury coverage amounts.
In the state of Louisiana, a DUI will stay on your driving record for five years.3 Your license will be suspended for two years for the first offense, and your vehicle will be confiscated. You will need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle if you are found with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.2 percent or above or have had repeated convictions. IIDs are highly incentivized for first convictions, although they’re not mandatory.
For BACs of 0.15 percent or above, there are enhanced penalties at the court’s discretion. For the first offense of a BAC 0.2 or above, there is a $750 to $1,000 fine and a two-year license suspension (as opposed to one year). For the second offense of a BAC 0.2 percent or above, there is a four-year license suspension (as opposed to two years).
Seat Belt Laws
Louisiana has a primary seat belt law for all passengers ages 13 and up. This means law enforcement can issue a ticket to the driver for noncompliance with the law without any other driving offenses having taken place.4
Distracted Driving Laws
In Louisiana, there is a ban on handheld cell phone usage for drivers in school zones. The state bans texting for all drivers. Also, Louisiana bans handheld cell phones for all teen drivers under 17 years old as well as novice drivers who have had their licenses for less than one year.
Fines for texting and driving start at $25 and go up to $500 for the first offense, with possible community service at the judge’s discretion. Each subsequent violation is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, a 60-day driver’s license suspension, and possible community service, again, at the judge’s discretion.5
Teen Driver Laws
Teens can drive with learner’s licenses under the supervision of a parent or an adult driver who is at least 21 years old, a licensed instructor, or a sibling who’s at least 18 years old. No other passengers are allowed.
Violations can restrict the driver from obtaining a full driver’s license for 30 to 180 days. The driver’s supervisor, such as the parent, can be held liable and face a fine of $100 to $500 and up to six months in jail if the teen driver is found to be in violation of the law.
Statute of Limitations for Insurance Claims
In Louisiana, the statute of limitations of claims is one year for both property damage and personal injury claims. This means if you are seeking additional accident-related payments or disputing a denied insurance claim in a court of law, you and/or your attorney must file the paperwork within one year from the date of injury. After that date, it is highly likely the court will not hear your case.
Cancellation/Non-Renewal Notification Laws
Insurance companies in Louisiana need to give you at least 30 days of written notice if they choose not to renew your car insurance policy prior to its expiration date. If you miss a premium payment while your current car insurance policy is in effect, insurers have 10 days to notify you via mail or email prior to canceling your policy for nonpayment.
For midterm cancellations due to a suspended license from a DUI, on the other hand, insurers typically give a 30-day notice. For misrepresentation on your application, according to Louisiana state law, the insurer can cancel your policy even if it has been in effect for more than 60 days.
Louisiana allows bonds instead of car insurance, also known as self-insurance, if you own more than 25 vehicles. The state requires a minimum of $100,000 in collateral.6
Car Inspection Requirements
In the state of Louisiana, you need to have your car inspected for emissions and safety every two years at any official Motor Vehicle Inspection Station. You can find a list of inspection stations at https://deq.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/Air/Web_StationList_current.pdf.
The state also requires a smog check in certain parishes and cities, such as Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, and West Baton Rouge. You have one month to complete the inspection after your inspection sticker expires. Contact your local DMV at https://expresslane.org/ to confirm if your vehicle also needs a smog check (see exemptions below). Overall, Louisiana includes emissions inspections with its annual safety inspections for a total cost of $18.7