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What can happen if you’re pulled over for DWI in Louisiana

A traffic stop in East Baton Rouge Parish may occur because a police officer suspects a driver is impaired. A series of events follows. The list can be relatively short or quite long, depending on whether the officer feels there is reasonable cause to make an arrest.

As you may already know, police employ more than one type of test to catch drunk drivers. The results of field sobriety and breath tests are immediately known. Blood samples are tested in toxicology labs.

The list ends here for drivers who pass the tests. If your performance is less than satisfactory or you refuse to take a test, an officer can make a DWI arrest. An arrest requires a driver to turn over his or her driver's license in exchange for a receipt permitting the defendant to drive for an additional 30 days.

An alleged first-time DWI offender is then booked at a police station and released after posting a set bail. Drivers with past DWI convictions will be ordered to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.

You have 15 days to make written contact with the Department of Public Safety and Corrections to request an administrative hearing about your license. Drivers who fail to do this will automatically lose driving privileges. The suspension period for a first-time DWI lasts 90 days to two years, based on the driver's blood alcohol content level – you may be granted a hardship license during the suspension.

Penalties for a first-offense drunk driving conviction may include a jail term up to six months, a maximum $1,000 fine and a one-year license suspension. Additionally, you could be ordered to perform community service and participate in substance abuse or driver education programs.

This blog barely nicks the surface of Louisiana drunk-driving laws. However, it does highlight the value of having a strong defense to combat unfair arrests and charges.

Source: Smart Start of Louisiana, "Louisiana Ignition Interlock Requirements" accessed Feb. 12, 2015

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