When a person is believed to have operated a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol in Louisiana, they can either be charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) or a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge. While these charges mean different things in some states, they are identical charges here and can carry significant consequences to an individual’s finances, freedom, and ability to continue driving.
If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, an experienced criminal defense attorney from John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm can help you understand the DUI legal process in Louisiana.
What Happens If You’re Pulled Over on Suspicion of DUI?
Louisiana is one of a handful of states where sobriety checkpoints can be used in order to pull vehicles over and administer field sobriety tests in order to determine if the driver has been drinking. Additionally, if a police officer investigates an accident and has reason to believe one of the drivers involved was impaired, they can administer field sobriety tests or even require the driver to provide a blood sample if the accident resulted in the death or serious injury of another roadway user.
Based on the results of the field sobriety test, the driver may also be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. In Louisiana, when drivers receive their license, they give implied consent for a breathalyzer if they are suspected of driving drunk. If someone refuses to take a breathalyzer, they face suspension of their driver’s license for up to a year.
If a police officer confirms intoxication through a breathalyzer or blood sample, the driver can be arrested on suspicion of DUI. They will generally be taken to jail. When placed under arrest, the individual is required to give their name and identifying information. However, they have the right to remain silent during further questioning and to request to speak with an attorney.
The Potential Consequences of a DUI Conviction in Louisiana
The consequences of a DUI conviction can vary significantly, depending on the circumstances that led the individual to be charged with a crime. First-time offenders are usually charged with a misdemeanor and are ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000, serve a minimum of two days in jail, and complete community service projects. First-time offenders often are eligible to participate in a substance abuse program.
Those who are convicted of DUI a second time are generally not eligible for diversion and are subject to increased penalties, including imprisonment for up to six months. Subsequent convictions also result in higher consequences, with a potential of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. Individuals who are charged with drunk driving vehicular homicide can be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
In addition to incarceration, fines, a loss of a driver’s license, and other consequences imposed on the defendant by the court, a DUI conviction can also have long-term consequences, including increased insurance rates, as well as the appearance of the crime on the individual’s criminal and driving record.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Minimize the Consequences You Face
An experienced criminal defense attorney has an important role in a DUI case. If obtained as soon as an arrest takes place, your attorney can take steps to ensure your rights are protected, such as being present while you are questioned. They can also help you seek a hardship license and develop a defense strategy aimed at keeping you out of jail and your record clean.
Your attorney will investigate the procedures and equipment that were used in determining your impairment. Field sobriety tests are known for producing false positives in some cases, and breathalyzer machines require calibration in order to yield accurate results. Your attorney will look at all of the investigatory processes used and can request that evidence be suppressed or even that the charges be dismissed as a result of errors or improper procedure.
Your attorney will also look for opportunities to lessen the consequences of the charges you face through participation in a diversion program or even a plea deal. At the resolution of the case, they will help you determine if you’re eligible to have your conviction expunged. Throughout the DUI legal process in Louisiana, your attorney can provide guidance, information, and answers to your questions.
If You’ve Been Arrested for DUI in Louisiana, Contact John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm Today
The legal team at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm can help you if you were charged with a DUI. We care for the people we represent and we fight for the best possible outcome for them.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, the time to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney is as soon as possible so we can begin protecting your rights and planning your defense. We offer free consultations, allowing you to talk about your case, learn about your legal options, and develop a greater understanding of the DUI legal process. For your consultation, contact us by calling (318) 377-1555 or send us a message online.