Whether you should take or refuse the breathalyzer test in Louisiana


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It is frequently asked, “Should I take or refuse the breathalyzer test if I get pulled over for a DWI?” Before I answer that, I must say that this is not formal legal advice. Hire an attorney if you have a charge. Every case is different. Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer here. The law has been created so that is the case. However, this article addresses some important considerations.

If you refuse the breathalyzer test, your driver’s license may be suspended by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety. On a first refusal, the offender may lose his/her license for a year. However, he/she may be eligible for a hardship license upon installation of an ignition interlock device and proof of SR-22 insurance. The penalties for refusal depend on the number of prior DWI arrests, refusals, and/or submittals. The length of the suspension is also determined by the outcome in the DWI charge in criminal court. So, the penalties for a refusal are harsh as they affect your driver’s license. It is also very expensive to get the ignition interlock device and insurance.

On the other hand, refusing the breathalyzer test may help your DWI or DUI charge in the sense that it is one less piece of evidence that may be used against you in your prosecution. In theory, you may have a better case to defend in criminal court. Nevertheless, the prosecutor may present other inculpatory and damaging evidence as to your guilt. This may come in the form of the officer’s observations of the offender before, during, and after the stop.

If you submit to the breathalyzer test, your license may still be suspended, but only for a shorter period of time. For instance, upon a first submittal over the legal limit, your license may be suspended for 90 days. SR-22 insurance is not required. However, if you have prior submittals, the suspension period may increase. If you submit over the legal limit of .08, the results may be used a evidence of your guilt in the criminal case.

In summary, there is no perfect answer. There are many factors to consider when being faced with the breathalyzer test. This article provides only some of the penalties and issues involved with a DWI. If you or someone you know has a DWI charge in Louisiana, it is important to hire an attorney familiar with DWI cases or else he may just be telling you information he read from this article and the rest of this website.

Contact Carl Barkemeyer, DWI Lawyer in Baton Rouge, at (225) 964-6720 if you need legal representation for a DWI.

"Breathalyzer machine used to test suspected drunk drivers in Louisiana."