In short, if you are arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Louisiana and you refuse to submit to the intoxilyzer (often called a “breathalyzer or blow”) the consequences of doing so can become very real, very fast. However, there are many nuances of the law that you should be aware of. Consulting a qualified attorney if you find yourself in this position is always the best way to ensure you are legally protected.
This article provides information on Louisiana law regarding breathalyzer tests, consequences of refusal to take the test, and the best path forward if you have to face the consequences of a refusal in the state.
The most important legal concept under Louisiana law in regard to breath tests is that of implied consent. In Louisiana, individuals that are lawfully arrested by an officer that has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence automatically provide their consent to taking breath test to determine their blood alcohol level, or BAC when they are issued a Driver’s License. For reasons of expediency, simplicity and cost, the breathalyzer is the most common form of test used.
It’s also important to note that you may be arrested for merely sitting or sleeping while drunk in the passenger seat of your vehicle. The debate is out on whether a conviction can be obtained in the event you are arrested under these circumstances.
Refusing the Test
As discussed above, if you are arrested for suspicion of DUI, you automatically provide consent to a test that will be used against you in any resulting prosecution. Moreover, if you choose to refuse the test, there are major consequences you face. Under Louisiana law, arresting officers are required to read an “Implied Consent Warning” that outlines possible consequences of refusing to submit to a test.
The specific consequence for refusal may turn on how many times you have been arrested and how many times you have refused a test. Under Louisiana Statutes 32:666 and 667, after your first refusal you will automatically have your license suspended for 1 year. After 3 months you may apply to have a limited “hardship license” reinstated.
For a second or subsequent refusal, your license will be suspended for a period of two years and additional criminal penalties. If you are involved in an accident that resulted in serious injury or death, the consequences become even worse. In such an instance you may be faced with fines upwards of $1,000, in addition to potential jail time.
Best Path Forward
If you are arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence in Louisiana, it may not help you to refuse the breathalyzer test. Although the consequences of refusing your first test are less than those that accompany a DUI, an experienced and qualified attorney can help you avoid conviction of a DUI charge. In my personal opinion, it is always better to blow because the consequences will be less severe (you might also blow below the legal limit).
Even though your breathalyzer test may show that BAC exceeds the legal limit, this does not mean you were impaired in such a way that you could not safely operate a motor vehicle. Once you have submitted to the test to avoid automatic penalties, it is important to contact an attorney that can help you navigate the legal intricacies and procedures moving forward. An experienced attorney can help get your license reinstated, ensure your car insurance stays active, minimized the impact on your record, and in some cases, get the charges dismissed entirely. Contact Crescent City Law Firm today!