BloomLegalTV: New Orleans DWI Lawyer Talks About DWI Checkpoints

Hi, my name is Seth Bloom and I’m with the law firm of Bloom legal. There’s been a lot of press around the summer about no refusal DWI and DUI checkpoints this year. To get started, I’m a criminal defense attorney here in the state of Louisiana. Primarily my practice is in the greater New Orleans area. Although we do go to some of the other parishes. Again, what I’m talking about today is general knowledge, so nothing I say here today should be taken as an actual legal advice.

If you have a DUI or a DWI, you need to have an actual attorney review your specific case in your specific jurisdiction so you can get the best result. But generally speaking, what was going on is the constitution allows for DWI checkpoints. This was challenged a number of years ago and they said that as long as they do public announcements, they can have DWI at checkpoints to try to enforce drinking and driving laws, which, for the most part, are good things. They keep our highways and our roads safe during busy holiday weekends.

What this new…the refusal issue that keeps coming up is an interesting one. Basically, when the police would stop you for a checkpoint, they ask you for your driver’s license, your insurance, your registration. And then they look at you. They talk to you, and if they believe that you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can stop you and then they can basically give you a field sobriety test. And, usually, there’s probable cause or something. You smell like alcohol, there’s an open container in the car, your eyes look bloodshot. So there’s some indication to them that you may be drinking or been on drugs.

Once they decide that is a possibility, they give you field sobriety test. They can make you walk the line. They can make you hold up one foot. There’s a number of tests. If these tests turn out to be positive, or they believe that you are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they can ask you to take a breathalyzer test, at least in the state of Louisiana. If you refuse to take that breathalyzer test, presumably then they’re not gonna have chemical evidence against you. And that’s why a lot of attorneys would recommend people not to take breathalyzer tests.

Now, at a lot of states apart from the state of Louisiana, if you get convicted of a DWI and you refuse a breath test, the DMV suspends your driver’s license for two years if you lose your administrative hearing. And you may say, “Well, how does that happen?” Because driving is a privilege. It is not a God-given or a constitutional right. It is a privilege issued by each state. So the state basically said, “If you don’t wanna take our breathalyzer test, that’s okay, then we’re just gonna suspend your license for…” And, for instance, they just changed the law from one year in Louisiana to two years.

When they don’t have that breath evidence against you, it’s difficult to convict you for a DWI in many cases because, basically, you can say, “Hey, I wasn’t drinking. I don’t care what that police officer says. These field sobriety tests are antiquated,” which is partially true because there’s no evidence there whatsoever. There’s no blood test, there’s no urine test, there’s no breath test.

So, the government has wised up a little bit, and what they’ve started doing with these DWI no refusal weekends, is they keep a judge either within…either actually out at the checkpoint or they keep a judge near there on the phone in his chambers. So at 3 in the morning what they would do is, if you get pulled over for DWI and you refuse to take the breathalyzer test, they actually will get a judge to issue a search warrant based on the fact of the suspicion of being intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle. And that judge can issue a warrant to actually force them to take a sample from you which usually is blood.

So as gruesome as it sounds, they can actually tie you down, handcuff you and actually take you to an emergency room where a nurse or some sort of a medical technician will actually stick you in the arm and take a blood sample. That blood sample can later be used in court as evidence for or against the fact that you may have been intoxicated while operating a vehicle. And this is certainly a more aggressive approach that jurisdictions are taking. So we thought we’d share with you a little bit about what a refusal weekend is and how DWI and DUI checkpoints work.

Again, my name is Seth Bloom with the law firm Bloom Legal here in New Orleans, Louisiana. Give us a call 504-599-9997. And, again, we’re just generally talking about generalizations in the law, in DWIs and DUIs. If you have a specific case or specific unique fact pattern, you need to hire your own attorney in your own jurisdiction to get the very best result from your situation. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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