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Louisiana DWI Conviction: What Prosecutors Must Prove

Under the Louisiana DWI statute, to obtain a DWI conviction against you, the prosecutor must prove both:

  1. Operation – You were exercising influence, control, or manipulation on a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance.
  2. Intoxication – You were under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or other drugs; or your blood alcohol concentration was 0.08 percent or more.

I.) Operation

“Operating” under the DWI statute refers to exercising some “influence, control, or manipulation” over the motor vehicle, which includes: driving, steering, backing, or any physical handling of the controls to put the vehicle in motion. That doesn’t mean the vehicle’s engine had to be running or that the vehicle had to be moving. As long as it is proven that you had any “influence or control” over the vehicle (e.g. keys in the ignition), you were “operating” the vehicle for purposes of a DWI conviction.

The following are common questions considered by courts when determining if the “operation” element is met:

  • Whether the keys were in the ignition?
  • Whether any part of the vehicle was turned on (g. engine, headlights, heater/air conditioner, etc.)?
  • Whether the vehicle was moving or parked?
  • Whether the defendant was trying to move the vehicle?
  • Whether the defendant was alert or awake (conscious)?

II.) Intoxication

Many people use “drunk driving” to refer to DWI. However, being “drunk” is not necessary to be considered “intoxicated” under the law. If your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) level is 0.08% or more, you are presumed intoxicated under the DWI statute. For some people, .08% BAC means only 3 beers, which might not equate to a person being “drunk,” but it does equate to being “intoxicated” for DWI conviction purposes.

Furthermore, intoxication is not limited to being under the influence of alcoholic beverages. It also includes drugs, such as illegal controlled substances (e.g. marijuana) and certain legally prescribed drugs and over-the-counter medications.

When it comes to proving intoxication for a DWI conviction, prosecutors usually present the following evidence:

  • Police officer statements.
  • Defendant statements and/or admissions of guilt.
  • Results from field sobriety tests, chemical breath test, blood test, and/or urine test.
  • Evidence seized from the defendant’s vehicle or person, such as drugs or alcohol.
  • Video footage depicting the defendant’s poor driving, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, confusion, imbalance, etc.

For information related to penalties associated with a DWI conviction, read our previous article, “Louisiana DUI Laws and Penalties.” DWIs can have other serious consequences, so if you’ve been arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, contact a skilled DWI/DUI defense attorney at the Russell Law Firm.

The DWI lawyers at the Russell Law Firm represents clients in DWI cases throughout the State of Louisiana, including the parishes of East Baton Rouge Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Livingston Parish, Ascension Parish, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, St. Charles Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Assumption Parish, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Lafayette Parish, St. Landry Parish, Evangeline Parish; and the cities of Baton Rouge, Livingston, Denham Springs, Walker, Gonzales, Donaldsonville, Port Allen, Brusly, Addis, Lafayette, Napoleonville, Kenner, Harvey, Marrero, Estelle, Gretna, Metairie, New Orleans, Terrytown, Westwego, Ville Platte, Eunice, Opelousas, Thibodaux, Houma, Belle Chasse, and Hahnville.

Baton Rouge DWI lawyers at the Russell Law Firm, LLC are skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable about the Louisiana DWI laws, related non-DWI statutes, and how to evaluate evidence that law enforcement and prosecutors might try to use against you. If you or someone you know is facing a potential DWI conviction, contact a DWI lawyer at the Russell Law Firm at 225-307-0088. We offer free, no obligation initial consultations.

Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.

****The photograph above is not a depiction of any actual event or scene, but merely a dramatization.

By: Danny D. Russell, Esq.

COMMON MYTHS: PARKING LOT CAR WRECKS

parking lot car wrecks

 

Private parking lots often become obstacle courses for drivers. They are usually filled with heavy vehicle traffic moving in and out parking spots, turning from every which angle, and inattentive pedestrians looking down at their phones or shopping lists, the ingredients for car wrecks.

As a car accident lawyer, I often receive calls from victims of private parking lot wrecks. The beginning of the conversation usually begins with the individual saying something to the effect of: “My mom/friend/co-worker said that because my accident happened in a private parking lot, I can’t make the other driver’s insurance company pay for my damages.” A recent call prompted this article, which provides information debunking that misconception.

I.      What Are My Rights in a Parking Lot Car Wreck? 

Although many Louisiana statues regulating motor vehicles on public roadways don’t apply to motor vehicles on private lots, Louisiana courts have imposed duties on motorists driving in private parking lots. For instance, motorists traveling in private parking lots must use “due caution” by being attentive and maintaining a slow driving speed while driving through and backing up in private parking lots. Therefore, if someone driving at a fast pace in a parking lot hits you, that person and his insurance company will likely be held liable for your damages. Among many other circumstances, the same would be true if someone wrecks into you because he/she is distracted by something else (e.g. phone).

II.     Do Officer’s Even Respond to a Parking Lot Car Wreck? 

Another common misconception is that law enforcement officers are told not to respond and never do respond to calls involving parking lot car wrecks. However, local law enforcement agencies are encouraged by the State of Louisiana to respond and usually do respond to such calls. In fact, most local agencies have crash report forms designed specifically for parking lot wrecks. Those forms are used during the local agency’s investigation of the crash scene, to record key facts relating to the circumstances surrounding the car wreck, names of drivers involved, vehicle information, each driver’s insurance policies, and etc.

III.    Other Implications

Furthermore, under Louisiana law, motorists are required to maintain the minimum automobile liability insurance while operating a motor vehicle, whether on public roadways or private lots, to cover damages from any at-fault wrecks of the motorist. If a law enforcement officer learns that one involved has no automobile liability insurance, the officer can cite that individual for not having insurance.

Lastly, if you operate your vehicle unsafely on a private lot, you could be cited for violating the Louisiana “Reckless Operation of a Vehicle Statute.” Because that statute is a criminal statute, it is applicable everywhere, including private parking lots.

The Russell Law Firm represents injured clients involved in private parking lot car wrecks and those with underinsured/uninsured motorist claims throughout the State of Louisiana, including the parishes of East Baton Rouge Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Livingston Parish, Ascension Parish, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, St. Charles Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Assumption Parish, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Lafayette Parish, St. Landry Parish, Evangeline Parish; and the cities of Baton Rouge, Livingston, Denham Springs, Walker, Gonzales, Donaldsonville, Port Allen, Brusly, Addis, Lafayette, Napoleonville,    Kenner, Harvey, Marrero, Estelle, Gretna, Metairie, New Orleans, Terrytown, Westwego, Ville Platte, Eunice, Opelousas, Thibodaux, Houma, Belle Chasse, and Hahnville.

Our firm is experienced and highly skilled in handling private parking lot car wreck and uninsured/underinsured motorist claims. If you or someone you know has been involved in a private lot car wreck in Baton Rouge or anywhere else in Louisiana, make the Right Call, Right Now and contact Louisiana car accident attorneys at the Russell Law Firm today at 225-307-0088. We will take a hands-on, aggressive approach towards getting you compensated for your losses.

**Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.

By:      Danny Russell, Baton Rouge area personal injury attorney, licensed in Louisiana.

****The photograph above is not a depiction of any actual event or scene, but merely a dramatization. 

 

10 Most Deadly Parishes: Fatal Car Accidents

10 Most Deadly Parishes: Fatal Car Accidents

According to the data collected by the Highway Safety Research Group from the LA State Police, LA Department of Transportation, and other LA state agencies, the top 10 parishes with the most fatal car accidents over the past 3 years, are as follows:

Top 10 Deadly Parishes – Fatal Car Accidents Over the Last Three Years:

  1. East Baton Rouge – 16
  2. Orleans – 14
  3. Tammany – 14
  4. Calcasieu – 14
  5. Tangipahoa – 14
  6. Jefferson – 12
  7. Lafayette – 9
  8. Webster – 8
  9. Caddo – 7
  10. Acadia – 6

Most Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents in Louisiana

According to national statistics released by the Insurance Industry Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the following are the most common causes of fatal car accidents in Louisiana:

  1. Failure to operate with required equipment, such as seat belts;
  2. Excessive drinking; and
  3. Excessive speed.

Louisiana vs. Other States: Fatal Car Accidents

Fatal car accidents are occurring throughout the United States, but they appear to be occurring more often in Louisiana as compared to other states. Louisiana ranks #4 in the nation for fatalities caused by careless or reckless driving. We also rank #4 for car accident deaths due to speeding and have one of the highest rates of fatalities due to impaired driving by alcohol. Those are national rankings that Louisiana is undoubtedly not proud of.

The Russell Law Firm represents clients in wrongful death cases due to fatal car accidents throughout the State of Louisiana, including the parishes of East Baton Rouge Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Livingston Parish, Ascension Parish, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, St. Charles Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Assumption Parish, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Lafayette Parish, St. Landry Parish, Evangeline Parish; and the cities of Baton Rouge, Livingston, Denham Springs, Walker, Gonzales, Donaldsonville, Port Allen, Brusly, Addis, Lafayette, Napoleonville,    Kenner, Harvey, Marrero, Estelle, Gretna, Metairie, New Orleans, Terrytown, Westwego, Ville Platte, Eunice, Opelousas, Thibodaux, Houma, Belle Chasse, and Hahnville.

Our firm is experienced and highly skilled in fatal car accident cases. If you have lost a loved due to a car accident, contact a Louisiana fatal car accident attorney at the Russell Law Firm today at 225-307-0088. We will take a hand on and aggressive approach towards getting you compensated for your losses.

Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.

By:      Danny Russell, Baton Rouge area personal injury attorney, licensed in Louisiana.