Officers Target Underage Drinking and Driving

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Person Driving a CarDriving while intoxicated is considered a relatively serious offense in Louisiana. When a person below the legal drinking age gets behind the wheel with an elevated blood alcohol concentration level, the consequences could be even more severe.

This April, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission focused their DWI Task Force patrols on motorists under the age of 21 who choose to drink and drive. The campaign was an effort to keep young drivers safe during the season of proms, graduations and end of school parties.

According to Louisiana law, all it takes is one drink for a young person to be considered too impaired to operate a vehicle: it is a crime for anyone younger than 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration level of .02 or above.

The National Highway Safety Commission found that drinking underage and driving is especially dangerous because people younger than 21 are less experienced drinkers and drivers.  Underage drinking drivers are at greater risk for a fatal crash than an adult who has consumed the same amount of alcohol before operating a vehicle.

For this reason, law enforcement does not go easy on underage drunk drivers in Louisiana, even if their BAC is at the limit or just above.  Drinking and driving underage can have a serious effect on a young person’s life with consequences like a suspended license or permanently marked criminal record.

Even if the goal of such a campaign is to protect the lives of young people and everyone else on the road in Louisiana, police officers are human and do make mistakes.  It is possible that underage drinkers who have been charged with a DWI are not guilty of all the charges filed against them.

Whether the officer that pulled a driver over did not have probably cause to do so, or a field sobriety test was improperly administered there are valid defenses for a DWI charge in Louisiana—even for underage drinkers.

If you are under the age of 21 and have been charged with a DWI in Louisiana, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible about your case.

This article’s photo comes courtesy of Flickr contributor, State Farm

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By 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