What to do after a DWI arrest in Louisiana
1. Remember That Drunk Driving Is A Criminal Offense
Some people believe that a drunk driving arrest is not really any different than a traffic citation. That is simply not the case. Most traffic offenses are civil infractions, which carry no significant penalty other than a fine and a possible driver’s license suspension. A conviction for a drunk driving offense will result in a criminal record, and can potentially result in significant fines and a jail sentence or term of probation. A DWI conviction remains on your driving record for a minimum of 10 years — this will result in higher insurance premiums.
2. Remember That You Have Constitutional Rights
One of the fundamental rights of somebody being questioned by the police is the right to remain silent.
If the police believe you may be a drunk or impaired driver, they will ask you whether you have been drinking. Many people choose to answer this question, some with starting honesty. If in fact you have been drinking, it is best not to admit it. First, depending upon how much alcohol you claim to have consumed, your admission alone may constitute “probable cause” to arrest you and give you a breathalyzer test. Second, some jurisdictions allow you to be charged with an impaired driving offense even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit.
Never consent to a search of your vehicle, even if you believe that you are in possession of nothing incriminating.
3. Remember That You Face Separate Driver’s License Sanctions
Along with a criminal charge for a drunk driving offense come Department of Motor Vehicle penalties. Your driver’s license will be taken from you at the time of your arrest, and you will be issued a paper license. You will have 15 days from the date of your arrest to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license, if you do not do so you may be subject to driver’s license sanctions even if you are ultimately acquitted of the drunk driving offense.
4. Consult An Attorney
The best way to know your rights, and to make sure they are protected, is to consult with a lawyer who practices drunk driving defense law. An attorney whose practice focuses on DWI Defense will best know how to challenge any breath, blood, or chemical tests, how to dispute the validity of the original traffic stop, and how to best protect your license. They are also likely to know what the judge who is handling your case is likely to do if you plead guilty, or if you are convicted after a trial.
It is even more important to consult a lawyer if you have a prior impaired driving conviction, as Louisiana imposes much more serious penalties on repeat offenders than on first time drunk drivers.
Here is another more informative Blog Post on Louisiana DWI Penalties.