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What If You’re Arrested for Drunk Driving? You Need a New Orleans DWI Lawyer

What happens after the arrest? That all depends. Was this your first drunk driving arrest? Maybe you can get a suspended sentence. Was your BAC over 0.15?  If so, you must spend 48 hours in jail under the law. Do you have prior convictions? How many? A history of driving drunk can mean serious fines and lengthy jail time. The law is complicated, with a variety of results depending upon a number of different contingencies. Speaking to a New Orleans DWI lawyer is your best chance at minimizing the penalties. 

If you have been arrested, your first step is to get out of jail. At Bloom Legal, one of our experienced DUI attorneys can assist you in determining the right method to secure your release. While some people might rush to use a bail bond service, many times an attorney can work with a judge to secure your release. Therefore, it is important for you or a family member or friend to speak with an attorney who can begin working on securing your release from jail.

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Once you are out of jail, the next big milestone is to file for an administrative hearing to protect your driver’s license privileges. Bloom Legal has experience working with clients from arrest to the conclusion of their driving under the influence case and will guide you through the process from start to finish.

When Do You Need a New Orleans DWI Lawyer?

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DWI or DUI, it is very important that you hire a lawyer fast, to make sure the result is the best possible. Deadlines under the driving drunk laws come very quickly, and they cannot be extended. Negotiating the different punishments (fines, suspensions, jail time, classes, etc.) under the law requires skill and experience.

Bloom Legal has extensive experience defending clients in New Orleans and throughout the State of Louisiana for charges of driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence. If you have received a DWI or DUI charge, you need the best legal representation possible — which is why you need Bloom Legal’s expertise.

Our goal is to get you out of trouble by letting you keep your driver’s license, insurance, and freedom. The initial consultation is easy, and it is with an experienced DUI attorney, not some member of the support staff.

Overview of Penalties for DUI Convictions

There are different penalties depending on whether it’s your first offense, second, third, fourth or beyond. Other factors like your criminal record or what you blow on a BAV test can affect the penalty as well.

All DWI convictions carry a mandatory driver’s license suspension. Further offenses and other factors may increase the length of this suspension. However, it should be noted that not all people charged with a DWI will be convicted.

In Louisiana, DWI is an enhancible offense, meaning that the penalties and fines increase for each subsequent offense.

Below is a breakdown of the penalties for first, second, third, and fourth DWIs.

First Offense DWI

• A first offense DWI is a misdemeanor charge.
• Jail time: 2 days to 6 months
• Fine: up to $1000, plus any legal fees
• License suspension: up to 90 days (up to 6 months for individuals under 21)

Second Offense DWI

• A second offense DWI is a misdemeanor charge
• Jail time: 2 days to 6 months
• Fine: up to $1000, plus any and all legal fees
• License suspension: up to 1 year

Third Offense DWI

• A third offense DWI is a felony charge
• Jail time: 1 to 5 years; mandatory 45 days
• Fine: up to $2000, plus any and all legal fees
• License revoked for 2 years
• Your vehicle may be seized by the state and sold
• Mandatory substance abuse treatment (6 months inpatient; 12 months outpatient)
• If put on probation, you will also be required to complete 240 hours of community service

Fourth Offense DWI

• A fourth offense DWI is a felony charge
• Jail time: up to 30 years in prison; mandatory 75 days
• Fine: up to $5000, plus any and all legal fees
• License revoked for 2 years
• Your vehicle may be seized by the state and sold
• Mandatory substance abuse treatment (6 months inpatient; 12 months outpatient)
• If put on probation, you will also be required to complete 320 hours of community service

These are the standard penalties for DWI offenses, but individual cases may vary, depending on various factors. For example, penalties will generally be harsher for individuals who blow over .15% BAV, underage drinkers, or those with criminal records.

Other factors may include having a child in the car with you or causing an accident that injures or takes the life of another driver or pedestrian.

DWI Checkpoint Alerts

Visit our Blog for the latest DWI Checkpoint Alerts as well as the latest DUI/DWI related news!

DUI Checklist

If you are pulled over for a suspected drunk driving offense, you must take certain actions to protect your rights. The DUI attorneys at Bloom Legal has prepared the checklist below to clarify what to do when you are stopped by the police or arrested for driving while impaired.

Six Things to Do When Pulled Over for Alleged Drunk Driving

If a police officer pulls you over based on the suspicion of a DWI, you should:

  1. Stay calm: You need to be able to think clearly and remember what happened during the traffic stop so you can testify about the incident later. Appearing excessively nervous raises suspicion that you may be impaired, giving law enforcement officers cause to test your blood alcohol content.
  2. Cooperate but avoid unnecessary statements: Being rude or uncooperative with the police will only make the situation worse. However, you do not want to volunteer any information that you do not absolutely have to provide. The happy medium is to offer brief, polite answers when you are asked a direct question and remain otherwise quiet.
  3. Avoid field sobriety tests: You are not required to submit to a field sobriety test when an officer pulls you over. These tests are often unreliable and if you fail the officer will have a video of the test in most cases. This evidence strengthens the prosecutor’s case against you. If police ask you to participate in a field sobriety test, you should politely refuse.
  4. Decline the preliminary alcohol screening: More commonly referred to as a breathalyzer test, the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test requires the alleged intoxicated driver to blow his or her breath into a device that calculates a possible blood alcohol level. This test is often inaccurate and can give prosecutors strong evidence against you. When you drive a car, you give implied consent to have your blood alcohol content tested, but you do not have to submit to a PAS. Instead, you may request a blood or breathalyzer test at the police station. We recommend that you request performing the PAS test at a police station.
  5. Know your rights: You are innocent until proven guilty and have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. You also have the right to stay silent. If police pull you over without reasonable justification or try to give you a blood alcohol content (BAC) test without a reason indicating you are under the influence, the evidence that is collected may be illegally obtained. A DUI attorney can help you keep improper evidence out of court.
  6. Call a lawyer: You should contact an attorney as soon as possible if you are arrested for driving while impaired. DUI attorneys will help you understand how to plead during your arraignment, fight the department of motor vehicle’s efforts to suspend your license, and assist throughout the process of navigating the criminal justice system.

A drunk driving arrest is serious. It will not go away if you ignore it. Severe ramifications such as loss of your license, incarceration, and a mark on your permanent criminal record will likely follow if you do not take timely action.

By following the steps on the DWI checklist above and calling a DWI lawyer right after your arrest, you can better protect yourself against any unlawful actions of the police.

Driving Under the Influence Statistics

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 112 million adults drink and drive every year. Not every drunk driving offender is caught by police or arrested, but thousands of people are convicted of criminal charges for impaired driving each year.

Driving under the influence statistics from 2007 through 2011 report the number of people injured or killed in drunk driving incidents as well as the number of arrests for drunk driving. These statistics show the danger of drinking and driving, but do not fully reflect the tremendous amount of damage that drunk driving can do to your reputation, future and freedom.

If you are charged with impaired driving, do not become another statistic. Contact a New Orleans DUI lawyer at Bloom Legal for help exploring your options and responding to the charges in a way that can minimize the potential consequences.

Statistics on Drunk Driving in New Orleans

The following statistics are available on alcohol-related fatalities and injuries as well as on drunk driving arrests:

  • In 2007, 15 alcohol-related deaths and 234 injuries occurred in Orleans Parish. In the same year, 1,194 drivers were arrested for impaired driving.
  • In 2008, 16 alcohol-related fatalities and 331 injuries were reported in Orleans Parish. Police made 897 alcohol-related arrests over the course of that year.
  • In 2009, a total of 21 deaths and 293 injuries occurred in alcohol-related accidents in Orleans Parish, in addition to 1,361 DWI arrests.
  • In 2010, 15 people were killed and 318 injured in drunk driving collisions in Orleans Parish. 1,338 people were arrested.
  • In 2011, 13 alcohol-related deaths and 351 injuries occurred in Orleans Parish. The same year, police made 1,672 alcohol-related arrests.

Each year, a portion of drivers arrested for impaired driving were under the legal drinking age:

  • In 2007, police made 81 DUI arrests of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20.
  • In 2008, 55 drivers between15 and 20 years old were arrested for impaired driving.
  • In 2009, 73 arrests occurred among drivers between 15 and 20 years old for driving while impaired.
  • In 2010, police made 79 arrests of drunk drivers under the legal drinking age.
  • In 2011, 93 underage drivers were arrested for impaired driving.

For drivers under the legal drinking age, zero tolerance rules apply. If you are not 21 years old, you can still be held accountable for driving drunk even if your blood alcohol content is not at or above the .08 limit. Any alcohol in your system is considered illegal drunk driving if you are underage.

Tourism and DWI

The city of New Orleans thrives on tourist-related festivals, parties, conventions and events that occur almost on a daily basis throughout the city and its suburbs. Some of the more notable events held here include the Mardi Gras parades and celebrations, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Voodoo Music Experience, the New Orleans Halloween Celebration, the French Quarter Festival, Essence Festival, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience and Southern Decadence. Given the party and celebratory atmosphere, alcohol flows liberally at many of these events, leading some individuals to run afoul with the law when caught driving while intoxicated. Whether a tourist or a local resident taking part in the fun, the Louisiana DWI and DUI laws remain the same regardless of the occasion or whether you are from out of town. These charges are also taken seriously by municipal and parish law enforcement, as the number of individuals, pedestrians, and other drivers on the roads during these events makes the potential danger from a driver under the influence greater. If you are from out of town and have been arrested for driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence, it is important to have a knowledgeable local attorney who can help guide you through the intricacies of the legal system in Louisiana and help ensure the best result possible for your case.

The police don’t just catch drunk drivers in the French Quarter. The city police department and the police departments of surrounding parishes conduct sobriety checkpoints to make sure that those driving on Louisiana roads are not intoxicated. Furthermore, if a driver displays suspicious behavior, a police officer might have probable cause to pull them over on suspicion of driving under the influence. The areas of the East Bank, including Metairie, River Ridge, Elmwood, Jefferson and Kenner, as well as the areas of the West Bank, including Avondale, Bridge City, Westwego, Marrero, Harvey, Gretna, Terrytown, Estelle, Timberlane and Woodmere are heavily policed by law enforcement for drivers under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. An arrest for DWI in these locations, as well as in the Northshore and River Parish areas, carry the same penalties in the eyes of the law.

Fortunately, for drivers arrested for a DWI, Louisiana state law provides a process for expunging criminal convictions and arrests. Bloom Legal regularly assists clients in the process of expunging their records of DWI arrests and other criminal charges under the provisions of Article 893 and Article 894. Specifically, almost all DWI guilty pleas can be expunged under the provisions of Article 894 for this misdemeanor charge. Please click here for more information on DWI and DUI expungements in Louisiana.

Secure Help from the New Orleans DUI Attorneys at Bloom Legal

Drunk driving is a serious crime with very real consequences for your future. If you are charged with a DWI, call the criminal defense law firm of Bloom Legal as soon as possible to speak with a criminal defense lawyer who can help protect your legal rights. We serve the greater New Orleans area, including Metairie and Gretna, as well as out-of-state visitors to the city.


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