Following a fatal car wreck on Sunday Morning, a Denham Springs woman was taken into police custody and cited with vehicular homicide, careless operation of a vehicle, and driving under the influence.
Louisiana's implied consent law states that drivers must submit to breath, blood, or urine testing if they are lawfully arrested by an officer that has probable cause to believe the driver has been driving or boating while intoxicated. The law is designed to make it easier for law enforcement catch offenders with multiple DUI arrests or those who are involved in a crash and refuse to submit to testing.
In a recent post, we mentioned recent research published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over two-thirds of drunk-driving deaths in 2010 involved drivers that had a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher. That means 7,145 out of 10,228, or 79 percent.
In 2004, a project known as the Integrated Criminal Justice Information System (ICJIS) was proposed, developed, and abandoned. With its failure came a corresponding inability to track DWIs across counties in the state of Louisiana. Prosecutors, members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and thousands of citizens were disappointed.
In our previous post, we began discussing the topic of illegal police behavior, and how this can provide various grounds for challenging DWI charges. We already noted the possibility of challenging such charges based on an improper stop or arrest. DWI challenges can also be based on an improper blood or breath test.
Last week, a 27-year-old police officer in Louisiana resigned after being accused of stealing an iPhone from the scene of a DWI crash. According to a police spokesman in Baton Rouge, the phone was not in the car when the driver was released from jail. The tracking feature on the device later showed that the phone name had been changed to the name of the officer now suspected of stealing the device.
Over the past years, fatal crashes in the state of Louisiana have decreased 34 percent. Alcohol-related crash injuries have decreased 17 percent. But with 288 deaths in alcohol-related crashes in 2011, and with Louisiana ranking in the top 10 states for overall alcohol-related fatal crashes, lawmakers want more to be done.
A bill recently introduced into the Senate would require harsher penalties for first-time DWI offenders. Specifically, the bill would make it mandatory for a person convicted of drunk driving to spend at least 48 hours in jail. The jail time could not be suspended by a judge. At present, the penalty for a first-time DWI is 10 days in jail, unless a judge suspends the sentence.
Earlier this month, the Louisiana House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice approved of a measure that would require second-time DWI offenders to spend at least 30 days in jail and go through substance abuse counseling. The measure, which now goes to the House floor for debate, was unanimously approved by the committee, along with another bill which would punish anyone over 18 years of age who fails to report witnessed physical or sexual abuse of a child.
St. Patrick's Day, as many of our readers know, can be a time of revelry and sometimes unsafe driving. Some people make poor decisions and end up driving under the influence of alcohol. Such mistakes can be easier to make than one thinks. And the consequences can be weighty, particularly if one has previously been convicted of DWI.