Louisiana has steep penalties for drinking and driving
Louisiana is one of the only states in the country to have an anti-dram shop law.
More than 2,000 people were killed by drunk drivers over the last decade in Louisiana. Even more troubling, drunk driving accidents are on the rise in a state which would rather be known for its Cajun cuisine, jazz music, and cultural diversity.
In this article, we’ll shed some light on Louisiana’s drunk driving laws and how they may influence a personal injury lawsuit.
Louisiana’s legal alcohol limits and BAC levels
Louisiana’s drunk driving laws can be found in Louisiana Statute Section 14:98. Under the statute, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if the result of a breath or blood test shows any of the following:
- A blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher for adults (21 and over)
- A BAC of .04% or higher for commercial vehicle drivers
- A BAC of .02 or higher for minors (under 21)
Can I be charged with a DUI if my BAC is below the legal limit?
Yes! Contrary to popular belief, you can be charged with a DUI even if your BAC is below the legal limit if you’re “influenced” by alcohol or drugs while operating a motor vehicle.
Evidence that may be used to support a decision that a person is influenced by alcohol or drugs includes:
- Erratic driving
- Poor performance on a field sobriety test
- Slurred speech
- Odd behavior
- An admission of being impaired
The best way to avoid a DUI charge is to have a sober friend drive you home or to opt for a rideshare service.
Implied consent laws in Louisiana
In Louisiana, any person, regardless of age, who operates a motor vehicle in the state is deemed to have given consent to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content and the presence of any controlled substances.
With that being said, police officers can’t randomly stop drivers and force them to take a breathalyzer test. To administer a breathalyzer test, the police officer must have probable cause to believe the person is driving under the influence.
Here are some examples that might give police officers probable cause to administer a breathalyzer test:
- Observing erratic driving behavior
- Odor of alcohol or drug us
- Slurred speech or bloodshot eyes
- Admission of alcohol or drug use
Refusing to submit to a test of your blood, breath, or urine may result in the loss of your license for up to a year. What’s more, your refusal can be used against you in court as evidence of your intoxication.
According to American Addiction Centers, bloodshot eyes are a common symptom of intoxication from a number of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol.
With respect to the latter, alcohol causes blood vessels, including those in the eyes, to expand or dilate. As a result, increased blood flow through the blood vessels in the eyes causes them to appear red or bloodshot.
Other common signs of intoxication indicated by the eyes include:
- Changes in pupil size
- Rapid involuntary movements of the eyeballs
- Heaviness in eyelids
Penalties for driving under the influence in Louisiana
The penalties for driving under the influence in Louisiana depend largely on whether you have any prior offenses.
|Louisiana DUI penalties
|10 days to 6 months
|30 days to 6 months
Drunk drivers who cause an accident that results in someone’s death face enhanced penalties, including up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
How does drunk driving affect a personal injury claim?
If you’re injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you can file an insurance claim as you would in any other car accident. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the intoxicated driver if:
- The driver is uninsured and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage (uninsured motorist coverage is optional in Louisiana),
- The insurance company doesn’t offer you enough money to settle your claim, or
- Your damages exceed the driver’s policy limits.
Proving that an intoxicated driver caused your accident is usually as simple as obtaining a police report indicating that the driver was intoxicated. If liability is contested, you may need to hire a car accident attorney to help develop and prove your case.
Dram shop laws in Louisiana
Dram shop laws hold establishments that sell alcohol (restaurants, bars, theaters, etc.) responsible for serving intoxicated patrons who later cause an accident. Unlike most states, Louisiana doesn’t have a dram shop law. In fact, Louisiana has an anti-dram shop law.
Under Louisiana’s law, a victim of a drunk driving accident can’t hold a licensed alcohol vendor liable for damages caused off the premises by an intoxicated patron if the patron was of the lawful drinking age. However, if the patron was underage or the injuries occurred on the premises, the establishment can be sued.
Frequently asked questions about drunk driving in Louisiana
Still have questions about drunk driving in Louisiana? Let’s see if we can answer them:
This is a device that requires you to pass a breathalyzer test before starting your car. Repeat DUI offenders are often required to install an ignition interlock device.
If a driver is convicted of DUI with a passenger under the age of 13 in the vehicle, they face additional penalties. This may include increased fines and longer jail terms.
The look back period in Louisiana is 10 years. This means that previous DUI convictions can influence the severity of the penalties for a new DUI offense if they occurred within the past 10 years.
No. Mints will only mask the smell of alcohol (and not very well). A breathalyzer measures the ethanol content in the air coming out of your lungs, which has nothing to do with the smell of your breath.
According to data collected by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2.3 percent of adults in Louisiana admit to driving after having too much to drink, compared to 1.7 percent of adults nationally.