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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.

18-Wheeler Accident: Lawsuit Deadline

Someone who sustains bodily injuries and/or property damages (“damages”) resulting from an 18-wheeler accident in Louisiana, has one (1) year from the date the “injury or damage was sustained,” to file a lawsuit against the the driver of the 18-wheeler, the owner of the 18-wheeler, the insurance company insuring the 18-wheeler, and any other parties responsible for compensating you for the damages you’ve sustained. The date the “injuries or damages were sustained,” is usually the date that the accident occurred.

Given that you have only one (1) year, it is important to make early contact with a personal injury law firm experienced in handling 18-wheeler accidents in Louisiana if you’ve suffered damages from an 18-wheeler accident. Before filing a lawsuit, it is crucial to collect all necessary evidence from the scene of the accident, the 18-wheeler, and others, which can take months. If some of that evidence is lost or destroyed, it could severely impact the outcome of your case.

The Russell Law Firm represents clients injured in 18-wheeler 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 18-wheeler accident cases. If you have sustained damages from an 18-wheeler accident, contact the Russell Law Firm  today at 225-307-0088. We will take a hands 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
****The photograph above is not a depiction of any actual event or scene, but merely a dramatization. 
By:       Danny Russell, Baton Rouge area personal injury attorney, licensed in Louisiana.

6 Photographs To Take After a Car Wreck

A “to-do-list” is usually the last thing someone wants to worry about immediately after being involved in a car wreck. However, there are a number of things that you need to do once everyone’s health has been checked on, beginning with taking the following photographs:

1.      Damage to All Vehicles Involved – Photographing damage to all vehicles involved may help establish the severity of the impact between the vehicles involved, how the auto accident was caused, and the damages to your vehicle under your property damage claim.

2.      Your Bodily Injuries – You should take photographs of injuries to your body that can be visibly seen (e.g. bruises and cuts) to evidence that you’ve actually suffered those injuries, as they usually heal within days.

3.      Other Vehicle’s License Plate – Photographs of the other vehicle’s license plate may assist the police in identifying the other driver(s) involved, should he or she flee the scene without giving identifying information to you. That information can also be used to identify the insurance carrier for that vehicle.

4.      Entire Scene – Taking photographs of the entire scene at various angles is critical. Pictures of the resting place/positioning of the vehicles, markings (e.g. tire marks, bridge walls or rails), traffic lights, and traffic signs, may assist with reconstructing the accident and determining liability.

5.      Your Vehicle’s Odometer – If your vehicle is totaled, the odometer reading may impact the value of your property damage claim. Many times the vehicle is towed away and the owner of the vehicle does not remember the vehicle’s mileage before the accident.

6.      Damaged Personal Belongings – Photographs of damaged personal belongings, such as phones, smart tablets, car seats, and etc., may be used to support an additional property damage claim for those items.

Lastly, if your camera is broken or you don’t have a camera with you, ask a witness or the police officer at the scene to take photographs for you. Give that person contact information that he or she may use to send the photographs to you. Once received, store them in a safe place and give them to your attorney if you chose to hire one.

For other suggested action following a motor vehicle accident, read our our previous blog, “7 Steps to Take After a Car Accident, or call the Russell Law Firm at 225-307-0088.

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

Danny Russell is a Baton Rouge car wreck and personal injury lawyer who has experience dealing with the insurance companies and working towards getting you the proper medical treatment so that you can get back on your feet and maximize your recovery. If you have been involved in a car wreck in Baton Rouge or anywhere else in Louisiana, contact a car wreck attorney at the Russell Law Firm in Baton Rouge. We will immediately begin scheduling treatment for you and dealing with the insurance companies for your vehicle repairs and personal injury claims.

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
– U.S. Middle District Court of Louisiana
– U.S. Western District Court of Louisiana
– U.S. Eastern District Court of Louisiana
– U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

**Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice. The photographs are not depictions of any actual even or scenes, but merely dramatizations. 

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

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

As previously discussed, Wrongful death claims allow certain family members to seek financial compensation for the losses they have sustained due to the death of another family member as a result of an accident due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct of another person, such as in a car wreck, trucking accident with an 18 wheeler, offshore accident, or any other incident.

Louisiana law places a value on the guidance, love, and support that a loved one provides to others during his or her lifetime. As such, it understands that the untimely death of that loved one can cause his or her family members to suffer losses. The Louisiana wrongful death statute intends to compensate family members for those losses.

Wrongful death claims are litigated in “civil” court – not to be confused with “criminal” charges that are litigated in criminal court. If the responsible party committed a crime in the process of killing your loved one, such as in a drunk driving accident, any criminal charges that he or she might face are in addition to the wrongful death claim and are litigated separately.

Who can file a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Although there are multiple people directly affected by the death of a loved one, not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The Louisiana Wrongful Death Statute provides a list of certain individuals who can bring wrongful death claims. However, not everyone falling on the list can bring one at the same time. The list prioritizes classes of individuals having that right, beginning with the lower numbered class and moving to the higher numbered class (top to bottom), as follows:

  • Spouse and Children: The surviving spouse and child or children of the deceased, or either the spouse or the child or children.
  • Parents: The surviving father and mother of the deceased, or either of them if he left no spouse or child surviving.
  • Siblings: The surviving brothers and sisters of the deceased, or any of them, if he left no spouse, child, or parent surviving.
  • Grandparents: The surviving grandfathers and grandmothers of the deceased, or any of them, if he left no spouse, child, parent, or sibling surviving.
  • Representative of the Decedent’s Estate.

If a member of a lower numbered class is living, then that member can bring a claim, but none of the members of the higher numbered classes can do so. For example, if any spouse and/or child or children of the deceased is living, both or either of those individuals can bring a claim, but no parent, sibling, or grandparent can do so because they fall under a class with less priority than the child and spouse.

If there are no surviving family members, and no one has been named to represent or manage the decedent’s estate, there can be no wrongful death claim. It is also worth noting that adopted and illegitimate family members may file a claim, while certain family members may be excluded from filing. You should consult with an attorney to discuss whether you fall under the class of individuals who have the right to bring a wrongful death claim.

If you have recently lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing and are a qualifying survivor of the wrongful death victim, you may be eligible to compensation.

The Russell Law Firm represents clients in wrongful death 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.

Our firm is experienced and highly skilled in handling wrongful death cases. If you have suffered the death of a loved one, contact the Russell Law Firm. We will take a hands on and aggressive approach at compensating you for your losses.

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.