Driving on a Suspended License in Louisiana

It is a guarantee that your license will be suspended in Louisiana following a DUI whether or not you submit to a blood alcohol test or not. The Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS) Office of Motor Vehicle (OMV) will only reinstate your license, after you pay $50 to $3000 and obtain an SR-22 license.  Your insurance rates will definitely go up significantly after that.

Louisiana Suspended Drivers License

You can refuse to take a test and as a result avoid a harsh conviction for a first offense but your license will still be suspended. Every driver is subject to the state’s implied consent law that allows for penalties for failure to submit to a BAC test.  It is up to the law enforcement officer that pulls you over to decide whether you get to breathe into a breathalyzer or give a blood or urine sample. In some counties, an officer can obtain a warrant to force you to submit to a blood or urine test.

Length of License Suspensions

The DMV clearly outlines the duration for license suspensions for DUI arrest. They include:

  • For a person that refuses a blood an alcohol analysis test:
        • For a first offense -180 days
        • Subsequent offense -545 day
  • For person who is 21 years old or younger with a BAC content that is .08% or higher:
        • For a first offense- 90 days
        • Subsequent offense-365 days
  • If the 21 year old or younger has a BAC level of .02% or higher:
        • For a first offense-180 days
        • For subsequent offense (3rd,4th, subsequent offense) -365 days

You may receive an additional suspension of 2 years for a second conviction, or 4 years for a second conviction with a BAC level of 0.2% or higher, or 3 years for a third DUI/DWI conviction. You may also have to pay fines and may face jail time.

Implied Consent Violations

An officer needs to give an “Implied Consent Warning” to a driver the officer pulls over for a reasonable suspicion that the driver is drunk. It is simply a warning that if the driver refuses to submit to tests, the driver’s driving license will be suspended.  A judge may be persuaded by your attorney not to punish you for refusing to submit to the test if the police officer did not present the implied consent warning.

Your attorney may also combat the states charges against you by proving that there was no probable cause to pull you over for drunk driving in the first place. The court requires the officer to show that there was enough evidence to require a chemical BAC test as described in Louisiana’s Implied Consent law.  For example, drunk driving charges against you can be dropped if it turns out that you were not driving in a dangerous or questionable manner and you were not at a DUI checkpoint. Remember that there is no punishment for refusing to participate in a field sobriety test unlike for BAC tests. An experienced DWI attorney can guide you through this complex process.

How Long Does an Expungement Take?

Just a single arrest, no matter how trivial you think it is may leave a mark on your record. It could mean arrest showing up in a future employee background check, or when you apply for military service, or sometimes when you want to rent an apartment. In the following video, attorney Danny Russell discusses the expungement process in Louisiana.

A properly expunged record means that certain private entities who contact the courthouse where the record may not have access to your criminal conviction. However, other organizations can still access those records and they include:

  • A law enforcement agency
  • Criminal justice agency
  • The office of financial institutions
  • The Louisiana state board of medical examiners
  • The Louisiana State board of Nursing

These are only a few of the organizations that can access that information.  An attorney familiar with the law and the changes can guide you through the expungement process.

Getting an Expungement in Louisiana

You have to file a motion for expungement to get an expungement, it doesn’t happen automatically.  Your lawyer will help you file the motion properly to prevent it from not going through. Generally, the filing fee is $350-$450 and on top of that there is a lawyer’s fee.  In Baton Rouge city court, the filing fees can range from $100-$350. You are only eligible for an expungement if:

  • Your case resulted in dismissal
  • You sustained a motion to quash
  • The prosecution refused to prosecute
  • 5 years have passed since your sentence ended  for certain misdemeanor convictions
  • 10 years have passed  since your sentence ended for certain felony convictions
  • Time limitations  running out
  • Defendant pleads guilty and received a deferred sentence under article 894 or 893 and successfully completed probation.

Note that misdemeanors may be expunged after 5 years have passed only if you have no felony convictions and no pending felony charges in the intervening years. Adults cannot expunge a record if it involves domestic violence, sex offenses, arrest for first and second DUI or when they have done time with the Department of Corrections.

What Happens to Juveniles?

Young people over the age of 17 can obtain an expungement under Article 918 of the Children’s Code. This only happens if a charge was adjudicated as a misdemeanor or no charge resulted in adjudication.  The exceptions are that there should have been no firearms involved and two years should have passed since the most recent judgment. For a juvenile felony you are not eligible for expungement if you offense was homicide, a sex crime, kidnapping or manslaughter.

Charges that can be Expunged

The misdemeanor and felony charges that can be expunged include theft, DWI, assault, DUI, possession of marijuana and more.

You should file a motion for expungement as soon as you can.  Once you criminal record has been expunged you can put your past behind you and you never have to disclose the arrest to future potential employers.  It will also insulate you family from social stigma associated with having a criminal record that is publicly available.

Are DWI Checkpoints Illegal in Louisiana?

Law enforcement set up  sobriety checkpoints on Louisiana roadways mostly during particular holidays such as Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and others. The reason for this is that DWI accidents spike during these holidays. But generally temporary stop of vehicles constitutes a Fourth Amendment seizure under both U.S. and Louisiana Law.

There must be a justified reason for an officer to be able to infringe upon the rights of citizens.  There are times where individual rights can be overridden such as where drunk drivers are involved.  Drunk drivers are a threat to public safety according to the law.

Requirements for Checkpoints

There are specific requirements that police checkpoints must abide by to pass  Louisiana constitutional muster and not infringe on the liberty rights of each driver. They include:

  • The checkpoints should be publicly announced ahead of time in your local newspaper or town website
  • Police should only stop motorists on a neutral impartial basis
  • The location of the checkpoint must be reasonable
  • Drivers should only be detained for a short time to lessen the intrusive nature of the checkpoint
  • There should be signage alerting motorists to the presence of a checkpoint

Only the supervisory or other administrative personnel can  establish in written form, the location, time, and duration of the checkpoint and other regulations for operation of the checkpoint.  Officers manning or implementing the checkpoint are not allowed to do this.

What to do at a Sobriety Checkpoint

Some people panic at sobriety checkpoints because they do not know what exactly the police officers are looking for. Below are rules you should follow at a sobriety checkpoint:

  • Do not argue with the police officers and be respectful
  • Make sure your documentation including your license, registration, and proof of insurance and others  is readily available
  • You can say no to a field sobriety test because this refusal does not violate the state’s Implied consent law
  • Submit to a breathalyzer test if you are arrested to avoid getting your license suspended
  • Try not to say anything that can be used against you in a court

Law Enforcement Officers Make Mistakes

In numerous cases, law enforcement  officers do not comply with checkpoint requirements especially in parishes such as Orleans, Tangipahoa, and Baton Rouge.  This has lead to many DUI charges being dismissed or reduced when challenged in court. So get an experienced lawyer to review your case to see whether everything was done according to the law.

Traffic Stops vs. DUI Checkpoints

A police officer cannot conduct a traffic stop without “reasonable suspicion” that the driver has committed a crime.  For a DUI arrest, the officer must have witnessed evidence of reckless driving, driving extremely slow, speeding or other abnormal driving behavior for the traffic stop to be lawful.

Law enforcement officers do not need “reasonable suspicion” to stop motorists at a DUI checkpoint.  Every motorist that passes the sobriety checkpoint has to be stopped to prevent discrimination and violation of the Fourth Amendment rights.

Louisiana Minor in Possession Charges

Undercover agents have over the years found many minors in possession of alcohol during football games or events like Mardi Gras.  People under the age of 21 are minors, and can face MIP charges if they are found with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% or more.

Louisiana Minor in Possession Charges

Minor in possession (MIP) laws help discourage underage minors from consuming or possessing alcoholic beverages in public.   You cannot be charged with MIP if:

  • You are in a private residence
  • Your parents or legal guardian is accompanying you
  • You are employed to transport, dispense, or sell an alcoholic beverage and you are handling the beverage in the course of lawful employment
  • You are handling the alcoholic beverage for an established religious event or purpose

What many people do not know is that an MIP is a misdemeanor that can be added to your record. This could affect a person’s chances of getting into a school or even future job prospects.

MIP Louisiana

In Baton Rouge, a four-month pre-trial intervention program costing $750 is offered to first-time offenders who face MIP charges.  During these four months, the offender will be subjected to random drug tests. You, the offender, will also have to attend MADD victim panel classes and AA meetings, and also perform 16 hours of community service. You will also attend driver improvement school and undergo substance abuse evaluations.

Once the defendant completes the program successfully the misdemeanor will be dismissed.  However, the defendant will need to file a motion to expunge the arrest from their record. The expungement does not prevent some state agencies, law enforcement and professional boards from getting access to your records.  That means that a misdemeanor charge can still affect future activities like applying for a state job or medical school.

Pre-Trial Intervention

You could decide to plead guilty or go to trial instead of enrolling in the pre-trial intervention program. That means that you will have to pay a fine. The fine for Minor in Possession is $300.  First-time offender that can demonstrate that not being able to drive could affect their work or schooling may be issued with a restricted driver’s license by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

Before 2016 first-time underage drinkers could face the threat of spending more than 6 months in jail and also had to pay a fine.  But the story is different for re-offenders.

Misdemeanor Summons

A misdemeanor summons is like a traffic ticket issued to minors found in possession of an alcoholic beverage in public.  But paying the fine on an MIP like you would for a traffic ticket is pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. Parents should immediately contact a lawyer who can guide them on the necessary steps to take, instead of going ahead and paying the fine. Do not let a public fun event put a mark on your record.  An experienced lawyer will work to ensure that your rights are protected and may even have your fines reduced or removed.

Can You Beat A DWI in Louisiana?

Do not assume that just because you were arrested for a DUI that there will be a conviction. All the elements of the crime have to be proven beyond any reasonable doubt in court. Only under those circumstances can the arrest result in conviction. For example, they have to prove that you were actually intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and that you were driving the vehicle. A resourceful lawyer can help provide a strong defense to help prevent a DWI conviction.

Your lawyer will work to get a not guilty charge or work to ensure you avoid a jail sentence which is not suspended. A skilled attorney may also help you avoid a felony conviction or discharge your DWI record.

You can beat a DUI in the following situations:

When you were not the driver and there was no probable cause

You cannot be convicted for a DUI if you were not driving the vehicle when the police officer approached you. For example, you may have been intoxicated and simply resting with the key in the ignition waiting for your ride. Another key defense is the probable cause. Your constitutional rights may have been violated if the officer stopped you because of a hunch. They must prove that they actually witnessed intoxication, or that you broke a certain law that justified them stopping you.

When Breathalyzer machine malfunctions and errors in results

The breathalyzer test results can be used as evidence against you but it could also be way to beat a DUI. A breathalyzer may show inaccurate results because of a medication you take or it could be malfunctioning. This makes those test results inadmissible in court. Instances where the breathalyzer machines are not calibrated properly also means the results are inaccurate.

When test results are improper

Field sobriety tests that are not done correctly can lead to your DUI charges getting reduced or even dismissed. A police officer must have strong evidence of intoxication before the officer can request the test. Instances where a police officer forces you to perform a sobriety test can also lead to your DUI charges getting reduced or dismissed.

When the police officer made a mistake

Some mistakes police officers make is pulling over suspects for a possible DUI using anonymous tips. This is not allowed in Louisiana. Another thing not allowed is detaining DUI suspects for too long. Your lawyer can point out these mistakes in court to help you get your DWI charges reduced or dismissed.

For a first offense, the possible penalties include up to six months in jail, a fine of $300 to $1000 and your driver’s license can be suspended for one year. The penalties are harsher for people who re-offend. Get the services of an experienced lawyer as early as possible in the legal process. Your lawyer will review your arrest for defense tips that may help increase the chances of your DWI charges getting dropped and prevent a license suspension.

What’s The Difference Between DWI & DUI in Louisiana?

People are often confused about drunk-driving terminology in Louisiana-especially the acronyms.  There are states that use DUI and DWI while other states just use DUI as an acronym for a drunk driving charge. You will be charged for a DWI or a  DUI if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated in Louisiana and Texas. In Louisiana DWI and DUI is the same crime. Driving while intoxicated or DWI is the term used to describe impaired or drunken driving in Louisiana. But this video introduces you to the term OWI…

Typically Louisiana law actually describes this crime as OWI…Operating a vehicle While Intoxicated. Driving under the influence or DUI is used instead of DWI in Mississippi and some other states.  You can still be charged for impaired driving even if your BAC level is not over the required level in some states.  In Louisiana, an officer who has a reason to believe that you are acting under the influence can still arrest you. This usually happens when the officer suspects that you have combined alcohol with other drugs.

Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated also includes operation of aircraft, watercraft, vessel or other means of conveyance. It is considered a crime to operate a vehicle when:

  • You are under influence of alcoholic beverages
  • Your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more
  • You are under the influence of a controlled substance listed under schedule I, II, III,IV  as set forth in La. R.S. 40:964
  • You are under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs which are not controlled dangerous substances and which are legally obtainable with or without prescription
  • You are under the influence of one or more drugs which are not controlled dangerous substances and which are legally obtainable with or without prescription

The state will use the police officer’s report and drug test of your urine or blood as evidence that you used a legal or illegal substance. It will also be used to prove that that substance impaired your driving.

Consequences of DUI Convictions

Louisiana law requires driving licenses of  drivers that fail the blood concentration test to be suspended for 90 days. Your license may be suspended for 2 years if your BAC level is over .20 percent. You may also face steep fines and convictions may be added to your driving record. There are additional harsher penalties for people that re-offend.  Driving licenses of Drivers that refuse to submit to a BAC test can be suspended for one year.

But these consequences depend on the number of times you have been convicted for a DUI. A first and second offense is considered a misdemeanor but a third and subsequent offense is considered a felony. The higher the number of DUI offenses in your record the harsher the penalties you will get.

Each Word Means Different Things in Some States

There are states that use both terms to mean different things.  In some states, DWI means driving while intoxicated of alcohol , while DUI means driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Hire a resourceful attorney to study you case and advice you accordingly.

Louisiana Open Container Law

There are laws that do not allow people to carry on vehicles any type of unsealed bottles, cans, and flasks containing an alcoholic beverage in almost every state.  The U.S. federal government has provided guidelines for states on how they can write laws related to open containers. Out of the 50 states, 43 including Louisiana have some form of open container laws in place.

An open container is a bottle, can or any other container that has alcohol inside.

Open Container Definition – Louisiana

In Louisiana, the open container law prohibits the driver of a vehicle and the passenger, from transporting an alcoholic beverage if the container holding the beverage is open or its contents have been partially removed.  Passengers are not allowed to consume an alcoholic beverage while in car that is being driven.

However there are some exemptions and they include:

  • Passengers riding on a parade float
  • People who because of their employment have to carry open alcoholic beverages as long as they do not consume the alcohol
  • A person paying to be driven in contract or public carrier vehicle.
  • When you are a passenger in a self-contained motor home and the open containers are in the trunk or in a locked glove box. The motor home should be at least 21 feet in length.
  • A passenger  in a limousine that is privately owned and the driver driving the  limo has a Class D commercial driver’s license
  • If you are a passenger in a courtesy vehicle being operated as a courtesy vehicle

Frozen Alcoholic Beverage and Daiquiri Drive Through

Frozen alcoholic beverages are excluded only if there is no straw protruding the top and the cup has a lid and no contents have been removed.  This is very relevant in Louisiana because of the state’s daiquiri culture. Daiquiri is a variety of cocktails with ingredients such as rum, citrus juice, sugar and others. In a daiquiri drive through or dispensary, these drinks are often served frozen in cups. In Louisiana this is legal but only if the cup is sealed.

A cup is considered sealed if the lid is not and has not been removed and there is no straw protruding out of the cup. The contents of the cup should not be removed partially or completely. Basically, you cannot buy a daiquiri in a cup and drink it in your vehicle while you are driving. Passengers or krewe members riding on a parade boat can drink it without fear that they will be arrested for doing that.

Open Container Laws in New Orleans

The city of New Orleans has its own unique laws regarding when and where alcoholic beverages can be consumed.  You are allowed to possess and consume alcoholic beverages in open plastic containers in certain districts such as the French quarter.

Consequences

People who break open container laws in Louisiana face a number of penalties.  Law enforcement officers will ask you to take a field sobriety test if they find an open can or bottle of alcohol in your car. You will be charged with a DWI or a DUI if you fail the test.

Criminal Attorney for LSU College Students

LSU and other Baton Rouge college students, just like students from any part of the nation, make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are serious enough for a student to face criminal charges. Call (225) 307-0088.

College Student Criminal Lawyer

You may face lasting consequences if you are charged with a crime in college. For instance, a conviction on your record could lead to you having trouble getting into graduate school, or future employment.  To avoid this, you will need an experienced defense attorney to manage any charges brought against you. Charges can be brought against you for crimes involving:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Alcohol
  • Assault
  • Possession of Xanax, Adderall, and other prescription pills
  • Drug possession
  • Drug distribution
  • Stalking
  • Theft
  • Sex crimes
  • Hazing incidents and more

These crimes happen more frequently than most college administrators would like to admit.  Additionally, it is not unheard of for college students to die from alcohol poisoning after taking part in certain on-campus or near campus activities. This is definitely a widespread problem.

In situations like this, it is not just the institution’s reputation on the line but also the reputations of the students involved in the social activities. The university may even take action against certain fraternities, sororities, or on campus student groups. But there may be other consequences to come.

Penalties – Students and Criminal Charges

Offenses like drug possession and DWI/DUI can lead to criminal penalties like paying huge fines and facing jail time.  You may lose your scholarship or find it hard to get a job or career in your chosen field if you are found guilty. In certain instances, police officers may confiscate your car or student loan funds and other things.

LSU Defense Attorney

Criminal charges often terrify parents of the accused, and this can keep them from contacting an experienced attorney in a timely manner so that the lawyer can start reviewing the case. A lawyer can answer all the questions the parents and the accused have about the case. Your attorney will focus on pursuing the best possible outcome for your case, and be completely up front with you on the severity of the criminal charges you face.

Some of the things your attorney may do are:

  • Ask questions to understand you and your situation
  • Attend DWI Administrative Law hearings and advise you on how you can continue driving
  • Discuss with you about considering rehabilitation for substance abuse
  • Provide assistance during university hearings about sanctions and housing
  • Helping students in LSU with Student/Immigration Visa who are  facing charges remain in the country to finish their education
  • Review your case to see if you should consider counseling or behavioral evaluation
  • File a motion for expungement depending on how your case was resolved so that you can have a clean record

Contact an attorney if you are a student, or a parent of a student, who is facing criminal charges. Sooner is better in this situation. A criminal lawyer will review your case and prepare a solid defense.

Louisiana Hardship License

If you are convicted of drunk driving in Louisiana, the penalties can be very serious. For many people, however, it is not spending a few nights in jail or steep fines that concern them the most. Instead, people are most often concerned about whether their driver’s license will be suspended, and if so, whether they can obtain a hardship license.

In Louisiana, a first-time offense for drunk driving will result in a 90-day suspension to your license, however, there are options that may be possible to allow you to continue driving. An experienced attorney will be able to guide you through these options and determine if they are right for you.

What is a Hardship License?

After your license has been suspended for drunk driving, you may be able to apply for a restricted license called a hardship license. This will give you the ability to drive during the period in which your license is suspended, but with specific conditions.

Some of these rules may include attending an alcohol education class, limiting what times of day and where you can drive, and only operating vehicles with an ignition interlock device that detects breath alcohol.

Obtaining a Hardship License

A hardship license can only be obtained if the court is petitioned in the parish in which the applicant resides. If the applicant has any changes in restrictions of the court order during the period in which they have a hardship license, the applicant must petition the court again to approve the changes.

Certain documentation may be required to receive a hardship license including an SR-22 Filing, ignition interlock installation and lease agreement, court order, and recommendation from support services.

In some situations when a driver uses his employer’s vehicle during their working duties, the court may allow the applicant to use the company vehicle without the use of an interlock device. The applicant will be required to provide a written statement from the employer stating they are aware of the driver’s restrictions. If the applicant is the owner of the company that they are driving the vehicle for, however, they must still install and interlock device on the vehicle.

Exceptions for Hardship Licenses

Hardship licenses may be issued only to Class D or E drivers. They cannot be issued to an applicant who operates a commercial motor vehicle and has a Class A, B, or C license. If an applicant has their license suspended in another state but becomes a resident of Louisiana, the state of Louisiana may not issue a hardship license to that applicant.

In addition, if someone residing in Louisiana who has a license from another state, but the license is suspended in Louisiana, the applicant can receive a hardship license, but only if he or she meets the requirements to receive a license in Louisiana.

Obtaining Advice from a Louisiana Attorney

It is easy to see that there are many statutes and requirements for obtaining a hardship license in Louisiana. That is where an experienced attorney can help. The attorneys at Russell Law Firm LLC have years of experience helping their clients through the complicated laws of driving under the influence and obtaining hardship licenses. Contact them today to schedule a consultation.

Why You Need Fierce & Skilled Representation by a DWI Lawyer After a DWI Arrest

A DWI is a serious offense that can threaten your livelihood, reputation, and freedom, so it’s important to hire an experienced DWI lawyer immediately. Even misdemeanor DWI charges present possible jail time, ranging from 30 days to 6 months. A third or subsequent offense is classified as a felony under Louisiana law, with possible jail time ranging from 1-5 years for a third offense and 10-30 years for a fourth and subsequent offense. Moreover, the accused also has to defend against a possible suspended licence by participating in an administrative hearing with the Louisiana Division of Administrative Law. Louisiana law requires different burdens of proof when defending against jail time in criminal court and a suspended license with the division of administrative law.

That is why it is important to immediately retain a DWI lawyer who has the experience and a trained eye for examining the evidence gathered against you and the pertinent law to mount a defense against your charges. Our DWI attorneys at the Russell Law Firm have been recognized for having impeccable client satisfaction when it comes to the results they obtain for clients. In 2018, Danny Russell and the Russell Law Firm was named as one of the Top 3 Best DWI Defense Lawyers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by Three Best Rated.® 

For information related to penalties associated with a DWI conviction for drunk driving in Louisiana, 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 lawyer 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.

By: Danny Russell, Baton Rouge area personal injury attorney, licensed in Louisiana and admitted in the following courts:

  • All Louisiana District Courts
  • All Louisiana Appellate Courts
  • Louisiana Supreme Court
  • Middle District Court of Louisiana
  • Western District Court of Louisiana
  • Eastern District Court of Louisiana
  • Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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