So, you went out with friends one night, had a few drinks, and on the way home, you see flashing lights behind you. The police are pulling you over and you are scared that they may find out you have been drinking. When the police officer reaches your window, they will ask you a number of questions and they may even ask you to submit to a breath test. In Louisiana, you have the right to refuse this test, but doing so does come with consequences. Below, our Ouachita Parish criminal defense lawyer explains.
Louisiana Follows Implied Consent Law
As in many other states, Louisiana law recognizes implied consent. This means that when you get your driver’s license, you also give your consent to submit to a chemical test if asked by authorities. Breath tests, commonly known as the breathalyzer, is the most common type of chemical test administered. However, law enforcement can also ask you to submit to a urine or blood test.
Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer
Under the law, you may face penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test. The officer must first read you the “Implied Consent Warning,” which informs you of the consequences you will face for refusing the test. These penalties are as follows:
- Suspension of your driver’s license: If this is the first time you have refused a breathalyzer, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for 180 days. You can sometimes attend an administrative hearing to get your license back or to obtain a hardship license that allows you to drive to school or work, but it is never a guarantee that you will get it back.
- Jail time and fines: If you have refused a chemical test two or more times in the past, or if the police suspect you of a DWI that involved injury or death, you could face up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Should You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
Unfortunately, there is no one clear answer when asking whether or not you should refuse a breath test. If you are over the legal limit, you will provide the police and prosecution with the hard evidence they need to convict you.
Refusing to take a test, though, may work against you, as the prosecution may argue the very act of refusing is an admission of guilt, although that is not necessarily true. Law enforcement may also view you as being uncooperative and so, they may become harsher with you during the stop. If you do take the test and blow over the legal limit, an Ouachita Parish criminal defense lawyer can also challenge the results to get them thrown out of court.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ouachita Parish Can Help with Your Charges
If you have been charged with DWI, our Monroe criminal defense lawyer can help. At Whiddon Criminal Defense, our skilled attorney can help you keep your driver’s license, and your freedom. Call us today at 318-594-3592 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.