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While Louisiana is well known for its drinking culture, the state takes driving while intoxicated very seriously. Consequences for a DWI can include jail time, probation, fines, increased insurance rates, loss of driving privileges, and a criminal record. Fortunately, with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, those consequences can be reduced or dismissed entirely.


A DWI is defined as the operation of any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance when the operator is under the influence or alcohol or a controlled substance or when the operator blows above a 0.08 on the breathalyzer, which can be the equivalent of as little as two drinks.

It is a common misconception that if a person blows under a 0.08, they cannot be convicted of a DWI. That is not the case. You can still be charged and convicted if you blow under a 0.08 if there is other sufficient evidence that you were too intoxicated to drive.


Officer Observations

The officer's own observations of a suspected impaired driver are often used as evidence. Examples of officer observations include: reckless driving, odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, inability to balance, and slurring of words. The officer will make note of these observations in his report, but it is important to know that an officer omitting certain observations can help your case. For example, if the officer only puts down he noticed the smell of alcohol, then it can be argued that you were not driving recklessly, had no trouble balancing, spoke clearly, and so on. This helps create reasonable doubt.

Preliminary Breath Test

The preliminary breath test may be performed during the traffic stop when you are asked to blow into a small, portable breathalyzer. These tests are unreliable and refusing to blow will not result in automatic license suspension. Accordingly, it is best to refuse a preliminary breath test.

Chemical Test

Unlike the preliminary breath test, refusal to take the chemical test will result in the automatic suspension of your license. At the police station, the officer must read to you an implied consent warning, which tells you of all the possible consequences you face if you refuse the test.

Refusing the test creates a situation where you have to deal with the extremely inconvenient consequence of losing your license for an extended period of time. On the other hand, if you consent, you give the police evidence to be used against you in court. Whether you should consent to a chemical test ultimately depends on your priorities. 

For a first DWI offense, if you blow above a 0.08, your license will automatically be suspended for 90 days. If you refuse, your license will be suspended for one year. However, in either case, you will probably be eligible for a hardship license which allows you to drive to work and other essential places. 

Field Sobriety Test

Typically, when a motorist is stopped and the officer suspects that person to be driving under the influence, they will ask them to perform a field sobriety test. There are three components: the one legged stand, the walk and turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. If you are asked to perform a field sobriety test, you should respectfully decline so that the results cannot be used against you. Unlike refusing to take a chemical test at the police station, refusing to perform a field sobriety test does not result in the automatic suspension of your license.


DWI charges require dedicated legal representation. Regardless of the circumstances of your case, it is important to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Once retained, I will immediately get to work to find weaknesses in the prosecution's case, challenge any unlawful traffic stops or arrests, explore favorable negotiations, and raise any and all defenses in order to obtain the best possible outcome for you.


There is no time to waste if you are facing criminal charges. Contact criminal lawyer Alex Laird today to schedule a free consultation where we will discuss your case in full detail and begin preparing your defense.