1. Penalties. If you’ve been arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle in Louisiana
while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be subject to civil penalties and
criminal penalties with respect to you driver’s license, in addition to imprisonment and/or
fines after a conviction.
Civil Penalties – No conviction required. State will suspend your driver’s license if:
i) arrested and refuse a test; or ii) test over the legal limit. You can request a hearing
to contest the suspension within thirty (30) days of your arrest.
Criminal Penalties – If convicted and sentenced you may face: i) imprisonment
and/or fines; and ii) suspension, revocation, or cancellation of your driver’s license.
2. Scope. You can be convicted even though weren’t driving the vehicle; Louisiana law only
requires that the State prove you were operating the vehicle, i.e., exercising some control
or manipulation over the vehicle such as steering, backing, or any physical handling of the
controls for the purpose of putting the car in motion. Also, Louisiana law doesn’t limit the
prohibition of drunk driving to public property, roads, or highways. You can be convicted
even if the operation of the motor vehicle wasn’t on a public street, highway, or road. For
example, the State has obtained convictions where the defendant was in a ditch, the
neighbor’s yard, a parking lot, etc.
3. Breathalyzer/Chemical Testing. If the law enforcement officer arrests you with probable
cause to believe you were driving while intoxicated, the results of any chemical tests will
be inadmissible at trial if the officer failed to inform you of your right to refuse the chemical
test prior to conducting it. Likewise, any breathalyzer test must be performed according to
methods approved and promulgated by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections
(DPSC), and results may be challenged as inadmissible if not.
4. Deferred Sentencing. For a first or second offense DWI, your sentence may be deferred
by the court if certain conditions are met. At the conclusion of the deferral period, if you
haven’t been convicted of any other offense and no criminal charge is pending against you,
the court may set the conviction aside and dismiss the prosecution.
5. Representation. A good defense attorney will examine the facts and circumstances
surrounding your arrest and challenge the admissibility of any evidence not property
obtained. If the evidence is good and no defenses are found, your attorney should ensure
proper sentencing in the event of a conviction or plea. At Southern Oaks, we comb through
the details of every case to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients. If you have
additional questions, feel free to call and schedule a no-pressure consultation.