What Louisiana’s implied consent law means for you

Drinking and driving do not mix. Louisiana has steep penalties for those who drive while impaired. Even worse, when alcohol slows your reaction time, you have an increased chance of injuring yourself or someone else on the road. As such, you should always arrange for a designated driver, rideshare or another way home after a night on the town. 

Even with careful planning and the best intentions, you may eventually find yourself in the middle of a traffic stop. If you have been drinking, you may choose to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. Before you do, though, you must understand Louisiana’s implied consent law. 

You already agreed to chemical testing 

Because a DWI may stay on your driving record for years, you must do what you can to avoid a drunk driving charge. In the Pelican State, motorists give implied consent to chemical testing when they drive on the state’s roadways. Therefore, when a police officer stops your vehicle because he or she suspects you of driving under the influence, you have already agreed to a test of your breath, blood or urine. While you may subsequently refuse the test, doing so carries some steep penalties. 

The penalties for test refusal are serious 

When your blood alcohol concentration climbs above 0.08%, you cannot legally drive a motor vehicle in Louisiana. If you do, you face significant fines and possible jail time. Whether your BAC is above the legal limit, though, refusing a chemical test also carries serious penalties. For the first offense, you can expect a suspension of your driving privileges that lasts up to six months. By the third infraction, you can probably plan to spend a few days in jail. 

Choosing to opt out of a breathalyzer or another type of chemical test is a decision only you can make. Before you decide to refuse the test, though, you must understand the consequences of your actions. While the penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test are usually less severe than those for a DWI conviction, refusing the test may cause you substantial hardship.

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