What to Expect When Facing a Drunk Driving Charge

Consulting with a New Orleans DUI lawyer after a drunk driving arrest is essential, as a driver can receive serious criminal penalties for driving while impaired.  At Bloom Legal, we know that being arrested is scary and that reaching out to a lawyer may seem intimidating as you try to cope with legal charges.

To help educate you about DWIs and the legal process, Bloom Legal has prepared a list of frequently asked questions and their answers to help you gain a better understanding of what to expect when facing a drunk driving charge in the New Orleans area.

Common Questions About DWIs

The answers below provide some basic information you need to know about a drunk driving arrest, but every case is different.  To obtain advice regarding your case and get the best results, you need a strong legal advocate to represent your interests.

Our New Orleans DUI law firm is here to help – don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have more questions, or want to learn how we can help you with your case.

1) What penalties will I face if I am convicted of drunk driving?

Penalties for drunk driving vary depending on how high your blood alcohol content was at the time of arrest, whether aggravating factors existed (like an underage child in the car), whether you caused the collision, and whether or not you have prior convictions.  You could face fines and jail time if you are found guilty of drunk driving

2) Will I lose my license if I am convicted of a drunk driving offense?

A conviction for a drunk driving offense will result in the suspension of your license.  After you have been charged, your license is immediately suspended and you receive a 30-day temporary driving permit.  If you do not apply for an administrative hearing to contest the license suspension, your license will be suspended for 90 days if it is your first offense and your blood alcohol level (BAC) was below .08.  A longer suspension is possible if your BAC was more than .08, you refused to submit to a blood alcohol content test, or if you have prior convictions

3) Will I have a criminal record after a New Orleans DUI?

Drunk driving is a criminal offense, so the conviction will appear on your criminal record and on background checks.  It may be possible, under some circumstances, to enter into a diversion or first-time offender program in order to prevent the offense from appearing on your record.  Consult a New Orleans DWI attorney to see if you qualify for these programs.

4) Do I have to go to court if I am arrested for drunk driving?

Typically, you must go to court for a drunk driving charge to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty and to face a trial regarding your guilt.  If you hope to resolve the criminal charges without a trial, you may be able to enter into a plea bargain.  You should consult with a New Orleans DWI lawyer to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor so you can minimize any penalties. 

5) What if I was arrested for drunk driving in New Orleans, but I live out of state?

A driver’s license suspension and a criminal conviction for drunk driving will follow you back to your home state.  You cannot simply ignore the charges or fail to appear in court, as this is considered a criminal act.   Instead, you should be proactive and hire an attorney who can help you resolve the charge(s).

At Bloom Legal, we represent many out-of-state defendants who received a DWI in New Orleans.  Our attorneys work to reduce the number of times you must return to Louisiana for court appearances.  At the same time, we also use our legal experience to help obtain a favorable  outcome.

6) How Can a New Orleans DWI Lawyer Help?

A New Orleans DWI lawyer will advise you on how to plead, help you negotiate a plea bargain, or represent you in court.  If you to go court, we will advise you of potential defenses and help build and argue your case.   We will advocate for you and protect your rights during your entire interaction with the criminal justice system in Louisiana.

How to Hire a New Orleans Lawyer

Drunk driving charges can result in the loss of your freedom and license. In order to prevent a criminal record it is wise to work with a New Orleans DWI lawyer. An experience lawyers can help you avoid conviction or minimize penalties.

Bloom Legal has extensive experience representing clients who are facing DWI charges. We take an innovative approach to helping you fight the criminal accusations against you. Call Bloom Legal today to learn more about how our firm is different than the attorney down the street: (504) 599-9997.

7) How Do I Hire a New Orleans DWI Lawyer?

When you need to hire a New Orleans DWI lawyer, your first piece of business is locating an attorney who specializes in this particular area of law. Louisiana has thousands of criminal defense law firms, but drunk driving charges require specialized knowledge. Your attorney may need to help you question the results of breath, blood and field sobriety tests, so you need a lawyer who understands the science and law behind drunk driving charges.

The Louisiana Bar Association can provide accurate information about drunk driving lawyers and there are many resources available who disclose the top drunk driving defense attorneys are. For example:

  • You should look to the Better Business Bureau to find information on accredited New Orleans DUI law firms. Bloom Legal has a top rating with the BBB. You can read reviews from satisfied clients directly on the site.
  • You can look to Avvo to find information on law firms and reviews from past clients to learn more about attorneys. Bloom Legal won a Clients Choice Award for 2014 for Criminal Defense from Avvo.
  • You can also check out the list of local Super Lawyers. Bloom Legal was named on the list in 2013.

Once you have found a New Orleans DWI lawyer who has good client reviews, is BBB accredited and top-rated by clients and peers, the next step is to schedule a consultation.

When choosing a law firm look for a New Orleans DWI lawyer who has someone available to talk to you 24/7, as you never know when you may need legal advice. Drunk driving charges don’t always happen during business hours (actually, are most common after hours). Bloom Legal is available to clients any day of the week at all hours of the day. Legal help is always a phone call away.

During your consultation, pay attention to how he or she treats you. Does your attorney ask questions and seem interested in your case? Is your lawyer committed to providing you representation at a reasonable cost with a minimum of stress? Will your lawyer fight hard for your rights or just try to quickly settle your case?

At Bloom Legal, we understand how much is at stake when you are facing DWI charges. That’s why we do everything possible to help you avoid conviction and minimize penalties. Call Bloom Legal today to learn more about how we can help you: (504) 599-9997.

8) What are Some Common Terms that Relate to My DUI Arrest?

Below, our firm has defined some common DUI terms to help you easily decipher the conversations and paperwork that relate to your arrest:

  • Absorption Rate – the rate that alcohol enters your blood stream. Food, the type of alcohol and biological factors all affect your absorption rate.
  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) – this term is often used interchangeably with “blood alcohol content” although blood alcohol concentration is the official term. BAC refers to the amount of alcohol that is in your blood stream. Your BAC may be measured by a breath, urine test or blood test. If your BAC exceeds the legal limit of .08, then you are considered to be in violation of drunk driving laws.
  • Breath Test – also called a breathalyzer, a breath test is used by law enforcement to determine the amount of alcohol in your blood stream.
  • Burnoff – refers to how quickly your body metabolizes alcohol. Your age, medical conditions, and the frequency of alcohol consumption can all affect the rate burn-off occurs.
  • Dram Shop Liability – refers to laws that hold drinking establishments such as bars and restaurants legally liable for injuries that third parties experience. Dram shop laws can make bars and restaurants responsible for accidents caused by drunk drivers under certain circumstances such as if the bar served someone who was already clearly intoxicated or who was not 21 years old.
  • Field Sobriety Test (FST) – is conducted by law enforcement to provide an initial assessment on whether a driver is intoxicated or not. Field sobriety tests usually assess physical or mental coordination. For example, a driver may be asked to walk a straight line or to recite the alphabet.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID) – is a device that may be required on the vehicle of someone with several drunk driving convictions. The driver pays for the installation and is required to blow into a breathalyzer on the IID before starting the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol the car will not start.
  • Implied Consent – according to implied consent laws, drivers in Louisiana are required to have a blood alcohol content test if there is reason to suspect they are driving while impaired.
  • Impound – your vehicle may be impounded or towed to a designated police yard after you have been arrested for impaired driving. There will be fees and costs associated with removing your vehicle from impound.
  • License Suspension – a person who has been convicted of a DUI may have his or her license suspended and will not be allowed to drive for a period of time. An administrative license suspension may also occur after a drunk driving arrest. An administrative suspension means that the Department of Motor Vehicles automatically suspends a license unless the alleged drunk driver requests a hearing.
  • Miranda Rights – law enforcement officers must read Miranda rights when an individual is arrested and before questioning. The Miranda rights include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
  • Restricted License – also referred to as a hardship or provisional license, a restricted license makes it legal for a person to drive for a limited purpose or period of time. Restricted license commonly allow travel to and from work or to fulfill family obligations.
  • Rising BAC Defense – this is a DUI defense in which you allege that you were not over-the-limit at the time when you were operating your vehicle even if you were over-the-limit when your BAC is tested. The defense is based on the premise that your BAC continues to rise for a period of time after you are no longer drinking.
  • Zero Tolerance – according to zero tolerance laws, teenagers under the age of 21 are not allowed to drive after consuming alcohol under any circumstances.

Understanding these common DUI terms is essential. For help learning more about drunk driving or for advice about your DUI charges, contact Bloom Legal to speak with a New Orleans DUI lawyer today – (504) 599-9997.

Driver’s Rights

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.

Understanding Driver’s Rights

Drivers have a right to be free from unlawful search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees individuals the right to be secure in their person and their property. This means that unless police have probable cause, they cannot pull you over.

If you were violating traffic laws or the rules of the road, the police have the right to make a traffic stop. However, this does not necessarily give an officer the right to search your vehicle or request a breathalyzer test.

Unless a law enforcement officer has reasonable belief that you are intoxicated, he or she cannot force you to submit to a sobriety test.

For example, if you were pulled over for speeding, the officer cannot make you take a breathalyzer or blood test unless there is reasonable belief that you are under the influence. Reasonable belief can be the smell of alcohol, red eyes or visible signs of impairment. However, if you were pulled over for swerving or erratic driving the officer may have a legitimate reason to suspect you were intoxicated and could legally ask you to submit to a sobriety test.

Drivers have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test and a field sobriety test, even if there is evidence of intoxication. Breath and field tests for intoxication are notoriously unreliable and are prone to false positives.

While implied consent laws require drivers to submit to some tests if there is reason to believe they are impaired, the driver can refuse these field tests and will instead be given a blood or urine test. It often makes sense to refuse the tests in the field because of the risk of false positives and because you do not want to provide additional evidence for prosecutors to use against you if you are charged.

Questions Your Lawyer Should Ask

If you have been accused of a crime or are being questioned by the police in connection with criminal activity it may be time to seek legal counsel from a New Orleans criminal defense lawyer.

Before hiring your lawyer you will likely visit for a consultation to exchange paperwork and determine if your case is a good fit for the law firm or lawyer.

It is natural to be nervous about your initial consultation, but it is important to listen carefully to the questions he or she asks to determine if they have your best interests at heart. You should also be prepared to share important paperwork, which may include police reports, medical records and state identification.

At Bloom Legal we listen carefully to the facts of your case. Using this information – and taking into consideration your priorities for the case – we use our consultation time to formulate a personalized defense that is right for you.

Some questions you can expect a New Orleans criminal defense lawyer to ask include:

  • Do you have a past criminal record? It may be uncomfortable to talk about your past charges or your arrest record but you must give your lawyer this information. You could potentially face harsher penalties if you have a previous record. For example, if you were previously convicted of drunk driving, you will likely face bigger fines and a longer incarceration time for a second offense.
  • What charges have been filed against you? If you have legal documents showing what you have been formally charged with, you should bring copies to your first meeting with your attorney. Your lawyer can provide information on the potential penalties for conviction of a particular criminal charge. A New Orleans criminal defense lawyer also knows the elements of each crime and what the prosecutor has to prove to convict you of a particular offense.
  • What were the events leading up to your arrest? You must provide information to your New Orleans criminal defense lawyer about the circumstances leading to your arrest. Were you under the influence of alcohol? Why did the officer pull you over? You should be honest because accurate information allows your lawyer to better prepare.

After your first meeting everyone should have a clear picture of what the charges are and you should understand your options for defending yourself. You should also provide other information to your lawyer like your residency status and whether you are interested in a plea bargain or doing everything possible to avoid conviction.

Bloom Legal provides personalized one-on-one representation to clients accused of crimes throughout New Orleans and surrounding areas. Our goal is to make handling your criminal charges as simple and stress-free as possible while getting the very best possible outcome for you. We will ask you for necessary details to provide you with the very best in legal representation. Call today to schedule your consultation and learn more.

Hear What Our Clients Have To Say

Working with Bloom Legal has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Seth and his team are professional, fast, and dedicated. Seth is a lot more than a lawyer; he is a fighter! Seth took on my case and treated me like a person instead of a client. He made a difficult situation very easy. I am very thankful for Seth and his team!

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