Tips for Avoiding a DUI
The best way to avoid a DUI is to know how much you can drink before you are over the legal limit of .08. While you can be charged with a DUI even if you are below the limit if officers think you are impaired, it is much more difficult for prosecutors to prove their case if your blood alcohol content does not exceed .08.
The amount you can drink before you are over the limit is determined by your weight, how your body processes alcohol and what you are drinking. Obviously, it will vary from person to person. If you have any doubts about whether you have had too much to drink, you should call a cab service or ask a designated driver to take you home.
If you believe you are unfit to operate a motor vehicle, you should seek alternate transportation. Safe driving should always be your priority. The following are several driving safety tips for New Orleans motorists:
- Obey the speed limit and all traffic laws. Don’t give police a reason to pull you over. Pay attention to the road.
- Know your rights. Police can pull you over if you are violating traffic laws or if you are behaving in a suspicious way, such as swerving when driving. However, law enforcement must have a valid reason for stopping you. If you are not doing anything wrong and you are pulled over, the policy may have conducted an illegal stop. In addition, police cannot automatically test your BAC after you have been pulled over. Law enforcement must have reason to believe you are drunk before asking you to submit to any test.
- Remain calm if you are pulled over by a police officer. Many individuals become frightened or nervous when they are stopped by law enforcement, especially if they know they have had a drink. Remain calm, roll your window down and have your license, insurance information and registration handy. It helps to keep these papers together so you can quickly access them when needed.
- Make eye contact. If you avoid looking at the police officer it will raise suspicion. You may not want to turn your head directly to the officer if you have had a drink since this could make it easier for the police officer to smell your breath. However, you want to be natural and avoid looking as though you are trying to cover your mouth or avoid direct eye contact.
Remember, you do not have to submit to a field sobriety or breathalyzer test. According to implied consent laws, law enforcement can require you to have your BAC tested (this is done by testing blood), but breath and field sobriety tests are not recommended. The results are often unreliable and provide law enforcement with additional evidence to use against you.
Our DWI & DUI Glovebox Guide
Disclaimer: You should not rely on the information below as legal advice. Legal advice should only be sought from a licensed attorney. The information provided below is only meant to be considered basic information and should not be considered as legal advice or an attorney’s recommendation. Any and all liability resulting from reliance on this information is disclaimed by the author. Professional legal advice should be sought from a licensed attorney in good standing with the bar association. Before relying on the information below, you should consult with an attorney.
Use your turn signal and pull over to the right shoulder of the road as quickly and as safely as possible. From the moment that the officer spots your car, he is making observations and conclusions that he will use as the basis for a ticket or arrest report. You don’t want to pull over erratically or in a manner that will make the officer suspicious.
Make it clear that you are submitting to the officer’s authority by following his instructions in a timely and obedient manner.
If you are pulled over by an unmarked car, you may courteously ask the officer for identification and his badge in order to be confident that he is really a police officer.
Roll down your window, turn off the car and place your hands on the steering wheel. If it is dark, be sure to turn on your interior light so that the officer can see you and isn’t suspicious of what might be in the dark areas of your car. Try not to make any sudden or spastic movements and remain calm and relaxed.
Remain in the car unless the officer instructs you to exit the vehicle. If the officer makes such a request, exit the vehicle in a slow and calm manner and avoid sudden movement.
It’s best to wait for the officer to instruct you to produce the documents he wants to see. This avoids the officer mistaking your movements for something that they aren’t. Reaching into your glove box, your pocket or around your car may make the officer suspicious. You could be reaching for a gun or attempting to hide evidence of a crime. However, you should know where the documents are and be able to access them easily. Putting them in the door pocket or in your visor makes them accessible without having to search through a lot of clutter.
Hunching down and reaching under your seat will also make the officer suspicious. At night, the officer just sees your shadow moving around the car and can’t tell what you are doing. You want to avoid appearing as if you are hiding, concealing or attempting to destroy something in the car. Therefore, it is best to stay still and upright to avoid further suspicion on the officer’s part.
Always treat the officer with courtesy and respect.
Let the officer speak first – you don’t want to appear defensive or aggressive.
Avoid interrupting the officer and do not argue. Remember to remain pleasant and answer the officers questions directly.
Never forget that the police officer is not your friend and isn’t there assist you. The officer’s job is to ascertain if a crime has been committed and, if so, to make an arrest with as much evidence as possible. Don’t be overly trusting of a police officer’s promises and never give the officer incriminating information. If the officer makes it appear as though they are trying to figure out whether to let you off, give you a ticket, or arrest you, don’t be fooled. They probably have already made up their mind and are trying to get you to admit incriminating information.
Remember not to incriminate yourself! While you do have to respond to the officer when he asks for your name, license, registration and proof of insurance, you don’t have to answer any other questions – especially if they seem calculated to make you give up incriminating information. If the officer asks how much you’ve been drinking – or any other questions that you feel uncomfortable answering, simply tell the officer that you prefer not to answer that question. You don’t want to give the officer evidence that can later be used against you!
If the officer asks you open-ended questions, answer with brief responses, such as yes or no. Don’t give the officer more information than necessary and don’t speculate on how fast you were going or other, similar questions designed to get you to talk and incriminate yourself.
Don’t admit that you’re guilty! If the officer asks if you know why he pulled you over, an affirmative answer could lead to self-incrimination.
Avoid admitting guilt, but also avoid excuses, lies and begging. You don’t want to seem desperate or come across as dishonest. You don’t have to lie because you don’t have to answer any questions that you don’t want to.
Remember that all of your actions, and potentially everything you say, are being remembered by the officer for recordation in a report – but they are also potentially being recorded on an in-dash video camera system.
You should always refuse to take a field sobriety test. There is no legal requirement that you perform one at the officer’s request. Furthermore, these tests are highly suggestive and subjective and can be difficult to perform even when sober. Simply politely refuse the officer’s request to perform a field sobriety test.
You are obligated by law to submit to a chemical test. However, you also have the option to refuse the chemical test. Chemical tests can be challenged in court, but they can also be convincing physical evidence that shows your intoxication level. Therefore, depending on the circumstance, it may be prudent to refuse the chemical test. If you have been drinking heavily and then got behind the wheel of a car, a high blood alcohol content reading on a chemical will be convincing physical evidence to a judge or jury. Keep in mind, however, that if you refuse the chemical test (breathalyzer or blood test) you could have your driver’s license suspended for one year on your first refusal and 2 years for a second refusal. Your third refusal to submit to a chemical test may result in incarceration for up to 6 months and $300-$1000 in fines.
A polite attitude will make the experience more manageable for both you and the officer, while potentially making the officer more comfortable and less likely to write you a ticket or arrest you. Additionally, the more confrontational you are with the officer, the more likely it is that he will write a negative police report. This makes it more difficult for you and your attorney down the road. If you are extremely rude or disrespectful, it is also more likely that the officer will remember you and your arrest very clearly – something that you don’t want to happen in court.
Never consent to a search of your vehicle or of your person! Remember that a pat down is not a search and is permissible in almost all situations.
Any suspicious movements or actions could give the officer probable cause to search your car without a warrant. It is important to avoid movement that the officer will interpret as you attempting to destroy or conceal something. An officer has probable cause to search your vehicle if he has a reasonable belief that you or someone in the car was, is or is about to be involved in criminal activity. As a result, it is important to remain still and calm while following the officer’s instructions.
Furthermore, an item that is readily visible in your car may be legally seized by the officer. This is the plain view exception to the warrant requirement. Obviously, there shouldn’t be illegal contraband or other illegal items visible in the vehicle. Open alcohol containers, such as a daiquiri cup, beer bottle, wine bottle or flask would also give the officer probable cause to search the vehicle. Drugs and drug paraphernalia such as rolling papers, pipes, bongs or vaporizers would also give the officer probable cause to search the vehicle.
If you’ve been arrested, remain courteous and cooperative with the police officer. Do not resist the arrest or fight with the officer. You should refuse to answer any questions – the police officer is not your friend and at this point is only attempting to collect more evidence against you. Don’t speak to anyone else, either. You never know if someone else can hear what you are saying.
Keep a detailed, written record of everything that happened the night of your arrest to assist you and your attorney in building a legitimate and successful defense strategy to the charges.
You only have 15 days from the date of your arrest to challenge the suspension of you driver’s license – if you miss this deadline, your license will be automatically suspended and you will have no recourse!
Disclaimer: You should not rely on the information above as legal advice. Legal advice should only be sought from a licensed attorney. The information provided above is only meant to be considered basic information and should not be considered as legal advice or an attorney’s recommendation. Any and all liability resulting from reliance on this information is disclaimed by the author. Professional legal advice should be sought from a licensed attorney in good standing with the bar association. Before relying on the information above, you should consult with an attorney.
Common Places for DUI Checkpoints
As the “Festival Capital of the World,” New Orleans promises both residents and visitors a good time. Pubs are easy to come by and there is plenty of beer and good music to fuel any celebration (and there is always a reason to celebrate in NOLA).
Yet, while it can appear anything goes, partygoers must still follow the law and direction of the New Orleans Police Department. Embracing your vodka vision and beer goggles is welcomed, but do your merrymaking safely.
The map below shows the location of DWI checkpoints which have been reported to us. If you encounter a DWI checkpoint in the city of New Orleans, let us know. Bloom Legal updates this map regularly, so you can safely enjoy your time on Bourbon Street (instead of jail).
Your DUI Checklist
If you are pulled over for a suspected drunk driving offense, there are certain actions you must take to protect your rights. The New Orleans criminal defense law firm of 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 in New Orleans, 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.
- 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 New Orleans DWI defense attorney can help you keep improper evidence out of court.
- Call a lawyer: You should contact an attorney as soon as possible if you are arrested for driving while impaired. A New Orleans DWI lawyer 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.
Local Taxi Companies
Please, don’t drink and drive. Here are taxi options throughout the New Orleans area. Secure a safe ride:
Checker Yellow Cabs
New Orleans Taxi Bureau
White Fleet Taxicab
New Orleans Carriage Cab
Metairie and Kenner Taxi Companies
A Service Cab
Metry Cab Services
Gretna Taxi Companies
Glenn’s Cab Co.
West Bank Marrero Cab Co.
If you, a family member or friend didn’t use a taxi or designated driver and now are facing a charge of DWI or DUI in New Orleans, Metairie, Harahan, Kenner, Gretna, or anywhere else in Louisiana, you need an experienced drunk driving lawyer to help you through your drunk driving defense.
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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