1. What are officers looking for when they search for a drunk driver?

  • Swerving
  • Weaving
  • Drifting
  • Headlights are off
  • Speed is more than 10 mph below the limit
  • Following too closely
  • License plate light is out
  • Slow response to traffic signals

2. What are officers looking for when they pull over a drunk driver?

  • Slurred speech
  • Flushed face
  • Swaying
  • Red, glassy, and/or bloodshot eyes
  • Odor of what appears to be an alcoholic beverage or marijuana (it still isn't legal here in Louisiana, except for medical marijuana).

3. What if I'm asked to take a field sobriety test in Louisiana?

Politely refuse to take field sobriety tests, They are not legally required in Louisiana. Typically an officer has already made up his or her mind about arresting you for drunk driving; a field sobriety test just provides additional evidence.

4. Do I have the right to a DWI attorney if I'm asked to take a field sobriety test?

No, typically you do not have the right to a DWI attorney until you are arrested. But you can refuse all field sobriety tests. We call field sobriety tests roadside gymnastics that are designed for failure. You cannot pass them so why would you take them?
Politely ask the officer if you are free to go. If he or she says no, ask to speak to an attorney ASAP.

5. Should I take a chemical test?

You have a RIGHT to submit or refuse the chemical test. Never submit to a breath test unless you demand a blood test. Usually if the police officer believes you are drunk or high, and you refuse the chemical test, they will get a judge's order for a blood test.

6. What will happen if I refuse?

Refusal to take a breathalyzer or chemical test can be used against you in court, but so can the test results if you submit.
Refusing a DWI chemical test will result in your driver's license being suspended; the length of suspension varies on how many times you've been arrested for DWI and/or refused DWI chemical tests in the past.
Refusal is not a crime; jail time will not be given unless you have refused the test more than twice within 5 years.

7. Do I have a choice of DWI chemical tests? If so, which should I choose?

Typically you do not get to choose which DWI chemical test you'll be given. But if you take a breathalyzer test you can get a blood or urine test as well because a breath sample cannot be saved for future retesting. If you have a medical reason that could limit your ability to take a breathalyzer test, tell the officer and request a blood or urine test.

8. Is a DWI a misdemeanor or felony?

The first and second offenses of a DWI are misdemeanors. Meaning you cannot get more than 6 months in jail as a sentence. Usually the sentence is suspended and you have to pays fees, fines, court costs, attend MADD classes, and may have to get an evaluation. You will probably have to get an interlock device as well. You will also have to attend AA meetings. The fees, fines and court costs, plus costs of classes will run several thousand dollars.
Third and fourth offenses are felonies. These carry several years in prison. You will have to do at least a 30 day in-patient treatment on either the 3rd or 4th offense (usually the 3rd). Plus, you still have to pay fees, fines, court costs, attend classes and go to AA meetings.
DWIs are VERY EXPENSIVE. I highly advise my clients to get an Uber or Lyft. It is definitely cheaper in the long run.

9. My driver's license was confiscated and I was told it was suspended after the breath test. Is this legal?

In Louisiana your driver's license can be suspended immediately if your breathalyzer results are above the legal limit, or you refuse to take the chemical test and do not request an administrative hearing to fight the suspension within 15 days from the date of your arrest. Most people are not even aware they can request this hearing. It is on the small print on the paper the officer gives you once he takes your license.
Once you request the hearing, the DMV will have to prove that the suspension is lawful before your license will be suspended. However, usually they just use the officer's report and the officer does not even have to be there at the hearing. So, you nor your attorney will be able to cross-examine the officer concerning the report.

10. If I have some questions about my case, whom do I ask?

The National College of DWI Defense, Inc. website www.ncdd.com is a good resource for drunk driving information.
Law schools, courthouses and libraries have a lot of information regarding drunk driving, DUI/DWI laws, blood alcohol analysis. LSA-RS.14:98 et seq.

11. How do I know when I'm legally drunk?

In Louisiana your blood alcohol content must be 0.08 or higher. If you're underaged then a blood alcohol content of 0.02 or higher constitutes legally drunk.