Under the Louisiana DWI statute, to obtain a DWI conviction against you, the prosecutor must prove both:
- Operation – You were exercising influence, control, or manipulation on a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance.
- Intoxication – You were under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or other drugs; or your blood alcohol concentration was 0.08 percent or more.
“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)?
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.