The first time you are exposed to the criminal justice system can be a traumatic experience, especially for someone facing his or her first DWI/DUI charge. What potential consequences will I face? What will a conviction cost? Will I still be able to drive, and if not, for how long?
The above questions are at the front of everyone’s mind as they are placed in the back of a squad car with flashing lights. This is why it is important for everyone to know Louisiana’s general DWI laws, consequences, and the fact that each person has the ability to protect his or her own rights throughout the criminal process.
The Definition of a DUI
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety’s Office of Motor Vehicles defines DWI as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of beverages of alcoholic content with a blood alcohol content of .08 or above, of narcotic drugs, or of central nervous system stimulants.
In order to pull over a vehicle on suspicion of DWI, police officers must have probable cause to believe you are operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol. This can, but does not always include, swaying your vehicle over traffic lines, excessive speeding or other obscure driving behavior. Typically an officer will then conduct a series of field sobriety tests and/or asking a driver to submit to a Breathalyzer test. According to FindLaw, people arrested and charged with a first DWI in Louisiana face:
- A license suspension of 90 days
- Mandatory alcohol treatment classes
- Confiscation of their vehicle
- Community service
- Up to a $1,000 fine, with a minimum fine of $300
- Other penalties as determined by the court
In addition, the penalties increase if a person’s blood alcohol content is above .15, and again if it reaches a level of .20 or above.
Experienced DWI/DUI defense attorneys are available to help you through your first criminal justice experience. A DWI/DUI charge does not have to have a major impact on your life, but ignoring it could do far more damage than addressing it head on. Know your rights, and if you need assistance, know that professionals are ready to help.
Bio – This post was written on behalf of TopLouisianaLawyer.com. Visit our website to learn more about DUI defense laws.