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Louisiana Cracks Down on Drunk Driving

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Over the past five years, Louisiana legislators and law enforcement officials have been cracking down on drunk driving in the state. In the latest effort, six bills affecting Louisiana’s DWI laws were signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal, impacting those facing DWI charges.

New Louisiana DWI Legislation

Louisiana has an implied-consent law, which means that, just by obtaining a driver’s license, drivers consent to alcohol and drug testing if police suspect they are driving while impaired. Under the law, drivers who refuse Breathalyzer or field sobriety tests will automatically receive a license suspension as a consequence of violating the implied-consent law. If a driver wishes to contest the automatic license suspension, he or she must act quickly to request a hearing on the matter.

One of the new bills strengthened the law on Breathalyzer and field sobriety test refusal, permitting law enforcement officials to use multiple tests to attempt to detect whether a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. If a driver refuses any tests, his or her license is automatically suspended.

Multiple DWI Convictions

Much of the new legislation addressed repeat DWI offenses. Under one new law, people convicted of two DWIs in one year will be sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to participate in a substance abuse program, according to dailycomet.com. Another new law permits judges to order people convicted of a third DWI offense to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle and drive with a restricted license after 45 days, instead of completing the current license-suspension period of three years.

Driver’s License Suspension

Louisiana Cracks Down on Drunk Driving

The penalties for a Louisiana DWI conviction include an automatic driver’s license suspension for a period of time that increases with prior offenses. A first DWI conviction results in a one-year suspension period, whereas a second DWI conviction carries a two-year suspension period. Drivers with a third DWI conviction face license suspension for three years, unless they obtain an order to use an ignition interlock device as mentioned above. There are also increased penalties and license suspension periods for people whose blood-alcohol concentration was greater than 0.20 percent.

Several other bills did not pass the Legislature, one of which would have required people with a 0.15 percent BAC to serve a mandatory 48 hours in jail.

Louisiana has detailed procedures in place regarding driver’s license suspension, DWI charges and the time and manner in which they must be challenged. If you are accused of drunk driving, an experienced DWI defense attorney can help you navigate the legal process and defend your rights.

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About George Vourvoulias

George is a founding member and managing member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C., a New Orleans law firm. George concentrates his practice in maritime personal injury, construction litigation, personal injury, workers' compensation, medical malpractice, and DUI defense. George Vourvoulias's Google+ Profile

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