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Common DWI Field Sobriety Test – Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test is 1 of the most common 8 DWI field sobriety tests administered by law enforcement officers when they suspect someone has been driving while intoxicated. When giving the HGN test, the officer observes a suspect’s eyes as they follow a slowly-moving object called a stimulus, which is usually a pen or small flashlight. The officer moves the stimulus horizontally across the suspect’s field of vision. Meanwhile, the officer looks for 3 indicators of impairment in each eye:  (1) if the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly; (2) if jerking is distinct when the eye is at maximum deviation; and  (3) if the angle of onset of jerking is within 45 degrees of center.

It is believed that when four or more clues appear between two eyes, the suspect likely has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 or greater. To administer a valid HGN test, the police officer must:

(1.) check for and remove eyeglasses;

(2.) offer standard verbal instructions;

(3.) properly position the stimulus;

(4.) check for equal pupil size and resting nystagmus;

(5.) check for tracking ability;

(6.) check for lack of smooth pursuit;

(7.) check for distinct and sustained nystagmus;

(8.) check for onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees;

(9.)  total all clues; and

(10.) check for vertical nystagmus.

HGN tests usually offer experienced DWI defense lawyers an opportunity to challenge the results of the tests, due to the strict guidelines creating room for error by the officer administering it. For example, if the officer neglects to tell the suspect to keep the head still and then fails the suspect for moving her head, it will invalidate the HGN test results. Also, if the officer misplaces the stimulus, the HGN test results are not valid.

DWIs can have other serious consequences, so if you’ve been arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, contact a skilled Baton Rouge DWI lawyer at the Russell Law Firm. 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.

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 attorney 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.

8 Most Common Field Sobriety Tests

When an officer pulls someone over suspecting the driver to be under the influence of alcohol, the officer usually has the suspect perform one or more of the 8 most common field sobriety tests. Essentially, the tests are a series of roadside physical exercises, testing for signs of physical impairment known to be caused by alcohol intoxication, such as the inability to perform certain mental and physical multitasking exercises. If the individual performs poorly, the officer uses it as a way to establish probable cause for a DWI arrest.

The 8 Most Common Field Sobriety Tests Include:

  1. Horizontal gaze nystagmus;
  2. Walk-and-turn;
  3. One-leg stand;
  4. Modified-position-of-attention (Romberg test);
  5. Finger-to-nose;
  6. Recite the alphabet;
  7. Touch each finger of hand to thumb counting with each touch; and
  8. Count backwards from a number.

Many law enforcement agencies continue to use all of those field sobriety tests. During the next month, we will be going into detail about all of the 8 most common field sobriety tests.

DWIs can have other serious consequences, so if you’ve been arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, contact a skilled Baton Rouge DWI lawyer at the Russell Law Firm. 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.

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 attorney 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.

 

 

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.

Breathalyzer Refusals – Potential License Suspensions

The State of Louisiana has strict DWI laws. By merely driving on a Louisiana highway, you consent to Louisiana laws for testing blood-alcohol content (“BAC”). Under Louisiana’s Implied Consent law, if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving or boating while intoxicated, and you refuse to comply with his or her request to use a breathalyzer test, then you can face an automatic license suspension imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Potential suspensions for refusal are as follows:

  1. First Refusal – 1 year from the date of suspension.
  2. Second & Subsequent Refusal2 years from the date of suspension.

DWIs can have other serious consequences, so if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, contact a skilled DWI defense attorney at the Russell Law Firm.

The Russell Law Firm represents clients in DWI/DUI 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 lawyer Danny Russell is skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable about the Louisiana DWI/DUI statutes, 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 has been arrested for a DWI, call the Russell Law Firm at 225-307-0088. We offer free, no obligation initial consultations.

Our DWI lawyers will handle all matters pertaining to your charge in an effective, efficient manner. We take care of paperwork and manage deadlines so that you never have to worry about the status of your case.

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.

Louisiana DWI Laws and Penalties

  1. Louisiana DWI Laws & Penalties 

Under Louisiana DWI laws, it is against the law for any person to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater or while under the influence of certain drugs.

If you are pulled over and the officer has a belief that you are indeed under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be arrested. Upon being arrested the officer usually confiscates your driver’s license and issues a temporary driving permit that is good for 30 days. Your driver’s license, along with the evidence he or she has collected against you, will usually be forwarded to the Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles or some criminal evidence department of the local law enforcement agency.

After your arrest, you only have 30 days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative hearing with the Louisiana DMV to contest the suspension of your driver’s license.  

The skills of an experienced Louisiana DWI attorney who knows how administrative hearings work, may give you a better chance of avoiding the suspension of your driving privileges.

Potential Penalties for DUI / DWI in Louisiana


Louisiana First Offense DUI

A first offense DUI conviction is classified as a misdemeanor and means that you have not been arrested nor convicted of a previous DUI charge within the past 10 years.  The potential jail time and fines for a first offense DUI charge are as follows:

  • Jail time: There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days. The maximum is 6-months. The sentence can be suspended for 32 hours probation instead, of which half the time has to be trash collection.
  • Fines: The fine amount for a first offense will be between $300 and $1,000 plus all the associated court costs.

Special penalty requirements for 1st-time DWI:

  • If the BAC is over .15, but less than .20, then you must serve at least 48 hours of the jail time mentioned above, without the benefit of that 48 hour sentence being suspended.
  • If the BAC is over .20, then the following penalties take effect:
    • 48 hours of mandatory jail time in addition to the general jail time requirements;
    • Fine of $750 to $1,000;
    • Installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of 12 months; and
    • 2 year suspension of driver’s license.

Louisiana Second Offense DWI

A second offense conviction is classified as a misdemeanor. The potential jail time and fines for a second offense DWI charge are as follows:

  • Jail time: The jail term for a second offense will be between 30 days and 6 months. 48 hours of the jail time you are sentenced to may be suspended.
  • Fines: The fine amount for a second offense will be between $750 and $1,000 plus all the associated court costs.

Special penalty requirements for 2nd-time DWI:

  • If the BAC is over .15, but less than .2, then the following additional penalties take effect:
    • 96 hours of the jail sentence must be served;
    • $1,000 fine;
    • Driver’s license is susptended for 4 years; and
    • An ignition interlock device must be installed for at least 3 of the 4 year license suspension if the driver is allowed to drive.

Louisiana Third Offense DWI

A third offense conviction is felony offense. The potential jail time and fines for a third offense DWI charge are as follows:

  • Jail time: The jail term for a third offense will be between 1-5 years. One year of the jail sentence must be served without the benefit of suspension.
  • Fines: The fine for a third offense is $2,000 plus all the associated court costs.

Louisiana Fourth Offense DWI

A fourth-offense DWI charge or “subsequent fourth offense” DWI is considered a felony. The potential penalties for a fourth offense DWI charge are as follows:

  • Jail time: 10 – 30 years. Two years of the jail sentence must be served without the benefit of suspension. 
  • Fines: $5,000 plus all the associated court costs.

For each of the offenses mentioned above, there may be circumstances where the offender may be required to serve additional jailtime, pay greater fines, or have his/her license suspended for a greater period. Some of those circumstances involve whether the offender was a minor, injured someone else while driving under the influence, or others. Further, depending on the offense, other outcomes may result, such as:

  • a court may allow any sentence imposed to be suspended and the offender be placed on probation;
  • the offender may have to install an ignition interlock device;
  • the offender may have to take certain drug or alcohol classes;
  • the offender may have to take certain driving classes; and
  • the offender may be required to perform community service

DWIs can have other serious consequences, so if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, contact a skilled DWI defense attorney at the Russell Law Firm.

The Russell Law Firm represents clients in DWI/DUI 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.

Danny Russell is 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 has been arrested for a DWI, call the Russell Law Firm at 225-307-0088. We offer free, no obligation initial consultations.

Mr. Russell will handle all matters pertaining to your charge in an effective, efficient manner. We take care of paperwork and manage deadlines so that you never have to worry about the status of your case.

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