A charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is a daunting experience and a serious matter that requires immediate attention. For those living or working in the St. George area of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this reality can be all the more striking due to the area's vibrant social scene and strict enforcement of DWI laws. This article is designed to provide an in-depth understanding of DWI charges, the potential penalties one may face, and the defenses available to those accused. It also presents an overview of the legal services provided by Carl Barkemeyer, a seasoned DWI defense attorney with a wealth of experience in handling DWI cases in the Baton Rouge area.
When you have a DWI arrest, the police officer may have asked you to submit to chemical testing, whether it be blood, urine, or breath. If you refuse any of these tests, the DMV will propose to suspend your license for at least one year. If you submit to the test(s) and your blood alcohol content exceeds the legal limit, you license could also get suspended. There is no court date in your paperwork for this. Your attorney will have to request that the Administrative Hearing be scheduled. Most importantly, you only have 30 days from the date of arrest to request this hearing. Otherwise, you waive that right to a hearing and you can never have it.
In Baton Rouge, driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) refers to the illegal act of operating a vehicle while one's mental or physical faculties are impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. The state law defines a DWI by a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher for drivers aged 21 and over. For those under 21, a BAC of 0.02% or higher can lead to a DWI charge. Importantly, a driver can still face a DWI charge even if their BAC is below these thresholds if law enforcement determines that their ability to operate the vehicle safely has been affected by the consumption of alcohol or drugs.
For the prosecution to secure a DWI conviction in St. George, several key elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. First, it must be demonstrated that the defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offense. This means that even if the vehicle was not moving, a person could still be charged with a DWI if they were in the driver's seat with the ignition on. Second, the prosecution must establish that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that their normal faculties were impaired. Finally, for a BAC-based DWI, it must be proven that the defendant's BAC was at or above the legal limit at the time of driving.
The potential penalties for a DWI conviction in Louisiana are severe, designed to deter individuals from engaging in this dangerous behavior. For a first offense, a convicted individual may face a fine of up to $1,000, and a jail sentence of up to six months. A mandatory 32-hour driver improvement program and a substance abuse evaluation may also be required. Subsequent offenses carry higher penalties, with a second offense leading to a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months, while a third offense could result in a fine of up to $2,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years. The court may also order the installation of an ignition interlock device on the defendant's vehicle and suspend or revoke their driving privileges.
Despite the seriousness of DWI charges, there are several legal defenses available that can potentially help to reduce the charges or even dismiss the case entirely. These may include challenging the legality of the initial traffic stop, questioning the accuracy of breath or blood tests, and disputing the way field sobriety tests were conducted. It might also be possible to present evidence showing that the defendant's driving was not impaired, or that other factors contributed to the high BAC reading. An experienced St. George DWI defense attorney can leverage these defenses to protect your rights and potentially avoid a conviction.
A conviction of DWI often comes with a suspension of the driver's license. By the laws of Louisiana, it is imperative for a driver whose license has been suspended, to apply for an SR-22 License. As long as you seem to be a threat to other road users you have to show your financial responsibility to afford the minimum car insurance. The state of Louisiana will then mandate you to fill out the form Department of Motor Vehicles, your license will be suspended and the SR22 license issued. After picking and filling out this form, you will be required to file it with the Louisiana Department for public safety.
Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney, brings years of experience to the table when dealing with DWI charges. Mr. Barkemeyer understands the ins and outs of Louisiana's DWI laws and uses this knowledge to create a robust defense strategy for his clients. He diligently examines the details of each case, carefully considering the circumstances of the arrest, the results of any breath or blood tests, and the client's personal and legal history.
Through his meticulous approach, Carl Barkemeyer works to identify any procedural errors, questionable evidence, or possible rights violations that may have occurred during the arrest process. He then uses this information to challenge the prosecution's case, aiming to either reduce the charges or have them dismissed entirely. In situations where dismissal or reduction isn't possible, he strives to negotiate the best possible outcome for his clients, considering all options including plea agreements or alternative sentencing options.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI in the St. George area of Baton Rouge, Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney, can provide the legal expertise and support you need.