For many folks, alcohol is as much a part of the fiber of New Orleans as Mardi Gras, jazz, and good Cajun cooking. Our city has a unique spirit all its own, which is why locals and tourists alike love New Orleans so much. But one thing that is not unique about the Crescent City is drunk driving. If you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence in New Orleans, the view from inside a jail cell – and the other serious and long-term consequences of a DUI conviction – are no different and just as harsh as they are elsewhere in the country.
Law enforcement in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, and throughout Louisiana take drunk driving very seriously and will prosecute drunk drivers to the full extent of the law. And make no mistake, the DUI and DWI laws in Louisiana potentially impose life-altering penalties upon conviction – even for first-time offenders. That is why it is critical to contact an experienced New Orleans DUI and DWI defense lawyer as soon as possible after you’ve been arrested.
At Bloom Legal, we understand how frightening it can be after a DUI arrest and we know that getting you out of jail fast is the top priority. We are available 24/7 to provide you with assistance when and where you need us, in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana. When you contact us, we will get to work immediately. When you retain us, we will evaluate your situation, advise you of your options, and begin preparing the strategy best suited to your situation. We understand what’s at stake – nothing less than your freedom and your future. That is why we are tireless in our defense of each person we have the privilege to represent.
What is DUI in Louisiana?
You will be arrested and charged with DUI in Louisiana if your blood alcohol content is .08% or above or if you are under the combined influence of alcohol and either a controlled or non-controlled drug. If you are under age 21, you will be charged with DUI if your BAC is .02% or above.For commercial drivers, the BAC limit is 0.04%.
People often ask: “How many drinks does it take to get over the legal limit?” There’s not really a clean answer to this question, as it depends on things like body weight, what you’re drinking (liquor, beer, etc.), and even what you’ve had to eat that day, among other things.
Check out these charts by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for reference. However, it should be noted, these charts are simply for instructional purposes, and if you’ve been drinking at all you should not drive.
DUI Arrests: What to Do and What NOT to Do
When those flashing lights appear in your rearview mirror and you are being pulled over, it can be easy to panic. You may react in a counterproductive way out of fear, attempt to talk your way out of the situation, or simply say or do things that you shouldn’t because you don’t understand your rights.
One of the biggest areas of confusion when people are pulled over for DUI is whether they need to perform the field sobriety tests that the officer will likely request or submit to a breathalyzer or other preliminary test of your BAC. By driving on Louisiana roads, you have already given your “implied consent” to have your BAC level tested if you are pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence. However, there are several different tests and techniques officers use to determine a driver’s level of intoxication, and your implied consent to testing does not apply to fields sobriety tests or a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, more commonly referred to as a breathalyzer test.
Even though you have consented to BAC testing, you can refuse the roadside PAS test and instead request a blood or breathalyzer test at the police station. If you have been arrested for suspicion of DUI, we recommend that you do exactly that. If, however, you refuse to allow any BAC testing, whether at the traffic stop or at the police station, you will face automatic penalties for doing so.
If you get pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, follow these simple rules:
- Stay calm. Appearing excessively nervous raises suspicion that you may be impaired, giving law enforcement officers cause to test your blood alcohol content.
- 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.
- Avoid field sobriety tests. As noted, you are not required to submit to a field sobriety test when an officer pulls you over. If police ask you to participate in a field sobriety test, you should politely refuse. Instead, request a blood or breathalyzer test at the police station.
- Call a lawyer immediately. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible if you are arrested for driving while impaired. Not only can he or she immediately begin to defend your rights, but the time to act to regain your driving privileges after they have been automatically suspended is short and you could find yourself off the road for months if you don’t act quickly.
DUI Penalties in Louisiana
The reason you need to contact a lawyer immediately is that DUI penalties in Louisiana upon conviction are extremely serious, even for first-time offenders. Drivers charged with DUI in Louisiana may lose their driving privileges, be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, and face jail time and hefty fines. You will also be saddled with a criminal record for decades which could impact employment, educational, and other opportunities.
The potential penalties upon conviction increase for subsequent DUI convictions, if your blood alcohol level is extremely high, if a child was in the car, or if anyone was injured or killed.
In New Orleans’ drivers have a responsibility to operate a motor vehicle safely, but they also have legal rights. Motorists have a right to expect that other individuals on the road will obey the rules and not put them in danger by speeding or failing to yield the right-of-way. Drivers also have the right to fair traffic stops and police intervention, as described in the U.S. Constitution.
If you were charged with a drunk driving offense it is possible your rights as a driver were abused by law enforcement. If the arresting police officer failed to follow proper protocol, it is possible that the evidence collected is no longer admissible in court, making it difficult for prosecutors to file a case against you.
The New Orleans DUI lawyers of Bloom Legal know the rules for driver’s rights inside-and-out. We can review the facts and circumstances of your arrest and help you do everything possible to avoid a conviction for a driving crime.
You Have Defenses – An Experienced New Orleans DUI Attorney Can Help
Many people think that if they registered .08 or above on their breath, blood, or chemical test they are simply out of luck and will be convicted of DUI. But that is simply not the case. From the minute you are pulled over, there are any number of errors that law enforcement officials can make which could be the key to your acquittal.
Everyone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Prosecutors bear the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated above the legal limit, and that is no small burden. An experienced and skilled DWI lawyer can raise many DUI defenses, including challenging the legitimacy of the traffic stop, attacking the validity of the prosecution’s evidence, including the accuracy of the Breathalyzer or other tests performed, and undermining the veracity of the witnesses against you.
Call Bloom Legal to Speak With an Experienced DWI Lawyer Immediately
DUI arrests don’t often happen from 9 to 5. No matter what hour of the day you are pulled over and charged with DUI in Louisiana, you should have access to an experienced DUI defense lawyer immediately. That is why the DUI and DWI defense lawyers at Bloom Legal are available at any time, every single day. Whether you are a visitor or resident, if you have been charged with a drunk driving in New Orleans or anywhere else in Louisiana, call Bloom Legal as soon as possible at 504-517-0487 or contact us online now.
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I contacted Bloom Legal out of the blue with a strange question for a fiction series I’m writing that takes place in New Orleans. Being from Maryland I was in the dark and needed assistance and they jumped at the chance to help me (they were the only law firm that responded to my e-mail). His team worked quickly and carefully to find the information I needed. Because of the help they provided it changed a large aspect of my novel and for that I am very grateful.
Posted by: Sarah Perrie