How Drunk Or High Does a Person Have To Be for a DWI/DUI Conviction?

How Drunk Or High Does a Person Have To Be for a DWI/DUI Conviction?

DWI/DUI conviction

A DWI/DUI conviction can be life-changing. Whether under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both, a DWI/DUI conviction happens after the police and prosecution have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Louisiana’s R.S. 14:98 defines the circumstances that permit the police to charge an individual with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. It is illegal in Louisiana to operate any motor vehicle (car, truck, aircraft, watercraft, etc.) under the influence of alcohol, any controlled dangerous substance or non-controlled drug, or with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent or more.

If a police officer believes you are driving while impaired, you can be charged with a DWI/DUI.  Police can and will perform tests to discover the exact levels of the substance in your body, including breathalyzer testing, blood testing, and even urine testing. Plus, they can ask you to perform a field sobriety test. While urine testing is less common, chemical tests like a breathalyzer are frequently used to get scientific, proven measurements.


How the Louisiana DWI/DUI Laws Work

R.S. 14:98 states that only one of the following conditions needs to be met for a person to be charged with a DWI/DUI in Louisiana: 

  1. The driver is under the influence of alcoholic beverages.
  2. The driver has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood.
  3. The driver is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V.
  4. The driver is under the influence of one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription. 
  5. The driver is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription. 

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for a DWI/DUI charge is .08 percent or more, which is measured by weight and based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood. The substance level for a DWI/DUI charge is any amount of a controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V that is present in the body and impairs your driving.

Charges are different from convictions, though. A person can be charged with a DWI/DUI when any of the conditions are met, but a person can avoid a conviction with the right lawyer and defense team. Even if you have a high enough blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for a DWI/DUI or a measurable controlled substance level for a DWI/DUI, the right lawyer will fight to reduce penalties and could even help you avoid a DWI/DUI conviction. 

Even if you blew over the legal limit, our lawyers can fight to have the evidence against you suppressed and your charges dropped. As soon as you or someone you love is arrested, it is imperative they hire a lawyer right away. It is also imperative that the client not make assumptions about his or her case. Oftentimes people assume they have no defense to a case, when, in reality, they have no clue how incredibly complex DUI/DWI cases are for the police/prosecution to successfully prosecute. So, just because you blew over the limit or your drug test came back positive doesn’t mean you don’t have a defense. 

The police must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over. They must have probable cause to arrest you. Further, the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and chemicals tests are rule based tests which require police to strictly adhere to rules regarding their administration. It is not unusual at all for police officers to incorrectly follow their guidelines and improperly administer the SFST and chemical tests. Accordingly, The Johnson Firm has, on numerous occasions, been able to have evidence, including the results of SFST, breathalyzer tests, and drug tests, thrown out of court because officers failed to competently follow the rules mandated for the tests. Also, Judges have suppressed the results of breathalyzer tests and chemical tests by finding there was insufficient probable cause to have arrested the person in the first place. 

The point is–don’t just assume because you blew or because officers drug tested you that you don’t have a defense. It’s way more complicated than that. 


Refusing a Chemical Test

In some cases, drivers may decide to assert their rights and refuse a chemical test such as a breathalyzer. While you have a right to refuse (or to give evidence against yourself), you may still be subject to civil license penalties if you do refuse the test. Also, the police may still get a warrant and forcefully take your blood for chemical testing. In any event, when you don’t refuse and consent to the chemical test, the police officers will be able to use the results of same in court based on your consent.

If you refuse all chemical tests, you will face an automatic license suspension. However, this suspension can be stayed and challenged if an appeal is filed within 30 days. This is another reason it is imperative to hire an attorney as soon as possible after being arrested for DWI/DUI. If you do have to ultimately serve the suspension, even after appeal, the suspension is shorter for first-time refusal. If it’s not your first time refusing, additional penalties apply.

At The Johnson Firm, we are extremely knowledgeable in this area of the law and routinely are able to prevent our clients’ licenses from being suspended at all as well as help our clients avoid  a DWI/DUI convictions by having their charges dismissed. In many instances, dismissal of the criminal charges results in an automatic dismissal of the license suspension proceedings. 


Underage Rules 

The laws surrounding intoxicated driving are more strict for underage drinking. It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .02% or more. 


DWI/DUI Penalties in Louisiana

Getting a DWI/DUI in Louisiana can mean significant penalties. Penalties can include serving jail time, paying fines, serving probation or community service, losing your license, and more. The penalties range depending on your criminal history, the severity of the impairment, and other factors.

First and second DWI/DUI convictions are considered misdemeanors, which can include hundreds of dollars in fines, house arrest, jail time, probation, community service, and court-mandated education. Hours of community service, amount of fines, and length of probation and jail time vary depending on the details of the situation.

Third, fourth, and any additional DWI/DUI convictions in the state of Louisiana are considered felonies. These offenses can include years of jail time and/or probation, home incarceration, thousands of dollars in fines, and more.


Hiring a Lawyer to Help with Your DWI/DUI 

If you’ve been charged with a DWI/DUI, it’s not too late to fight for your rights and get the best result possible for your case. With a top defense team like The Johnson Firm, you can reduce, minimize, or eliminate your charges, and a DWI/DUI conviction may not be the end result after all. 

With a deep history of experience in DWI/DUI cases, the lawyers at The Johnson Firm know the ins and outs of these laws, and we will help you exercise your rights from the beginning. No matter the circumstances, The Johnson Firm is here by your side to win justice on your behalf. 


Contact The Johnson Firm About Your Case Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI or DUI, The Johnson Firm is here to help. Schedule a consultation with a lawyer now by calling 337-427-8961 or sending us a message. We look forward to hearing from you!


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