Arrested for a DUI in Baton Rouge, LA?
A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol can result in the loss of one’s driver’s license, as much as six months in jail and steep fines. If you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with having a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher, the first thing to do is to get an experienced Baton Rouge DUI lawyer on your side before going any further.
At Beall & Thies, we have over 100 years of combined experience among our partners in fighting for defendants. We know how to challenge evidence and we know where law enforcement can make mistakes.
Louisiana DUI Laws
As we mentioned earlier, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in Louisiana is 0.08% for adults operating regular passenger vehicles. For commercial drivers, the limit is typically lower at 0.04%. For drivers under the age of 21, there's a "zero tolerance" policy, meaning any detectable amount of alcohol in their system can result in legal consequences.
Louisiana, like most states, has an implied consent law, which means that by driving on the state's roads, you agree to submit to chemical tests (breath, blood, or urine) if suspected of DUI. Refusal to take these tests can result in an automatic driver's license suspension.
What to Expect After Being Charged with DWI
DWI charges follow a different path than other criminal cases in Louisiana. Before the trial, there will be an Administrative Hearing, determining if the driver can keep their license while the case is ongoing. The criminal trial to decide guilt or acquittal on the charges themselves will follow.
It’s important to get an experienced lawyer into the process as quickly as possible. Prosecutors may seek to maneuver people into guilty pleas when there is in fact a viable path to legal acquittal. Prosecutors may offer plea deals that are less than favorable. There are often more options than a defendant realizes at the point of their arrest, and a good attorney can walk them through the process and determine the best path forward.
Possible DWI Penalties
- First Time DWI: A first-time DWI conviction is still considered a misdemeanor offense under Louisiana law. Fines can range anywhere from $300 to $1,000. Jail time will be between 10 days to 6 months behind bars.
- Second DWI: A second DUI conviction is still a misdemeanor, but the minimum sentences become more severe, with a fine of at least $750 and 30 days of jail time. The possibility of a $1,000 fine and a 6-month jail term is still possible.
- Subsequent Convictions: Future convictions move a defendant into the felony category, meaning prison sentences can be significantly longer, from a 5-year maximum for a third conviction to a 30-year max for a fourth. The court will also have the option of seizing the defendant’s car.
The lawyers at Beall & Thies know how much is at stake in your DUI case and we fight hard to protect your record, your reputation, and your freedom.
Common Legal Defenses Against DUI Charges
Defending against DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charges can be complex, and the success of these defenses often depends on the specific circumstances of the case. While it's crucial to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney to assess the best strategy for your situation, here are some common legal defenses to DUI charges:
- Lack of Probable Cause: One of the primary defenses in a DUI case is challenging the initial traffic stop or arrest. If law enforcement did not have a valid reason (probable cause) to pull you over or arrest you, the evidence gathered during the stop may be inadmissible in court.
- Faulty Field Sobriety Tests: Field sobriety tests, such as the Walk-and-Turn or One-Leg Stand, are often used by officers to establish probable cause for an arrest. These tests are subjective and can be challenged on the grounds that they are not reliable indicators of intoxication. Mistakes or health issues could lead to poor performance on these tests.
- Inaccurate Breathalyzer or Blood Tests: Challenging the accuracy and reliability of breathalyzer or blood tests is a common defense. These tests can produce false readings due to improper calibration, maintenance issues, or medical conditions that might cause high BAC readings. An attorney may request records of the machine's maintenance and calibration to support this defense.
- Rising Blood Alcohol Content: It can take time for alcohol to be absorbed into the bloodstream, and during that period, your BAC may rise. If you consumed alcohol shortly before driving, your BAC might have been below the legal limit when you were driving, even if it was above the limit when you were tested. This is known as the "rising BAC" defense.
- Medical Conditions or Medications: Certain medical conditions or medications can produce symptoms that mimic intoxication. If you can demonstrate that a medical condition or prescription medication affected your ability to perform sobriety tests or led to a false positive on a breathalyzer, it may be a valid defense.
- Violation of Miranda Rights: If you were not properly informed of your Miranda rights (the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney) during the arrest, statements you made to law enforcement may be inadmissible in court.
- Illegal Search and Seizure: If the police conducted an unlawful search of your vehicle or your person, any evidence obtained during that search, including alcohol or drug-related items, may be excluded from court proceedings.
- No Actual Physical Control: In some jurisdictions, if you were not actually driving the vehicle, you may be able to argue that you were not in physical control of the vehicle and, therefore, not operating it under the influence.
- Witness Testimonies: Witness statements can sometimes be used to challenge the prosecution's case. If someone observed the arrest and can testify that you did not appear impaired, this can be a helpful defense.
- Alternative Explanations: Providing an alternative explanation for erratic driving or other behaviors that led to the arrest can be a defense. For example, you may have swerved to avoid an obstacle on the road, not because of intoxication.
How to Challenge the Results of a Breathalyzer Test in Louisiana
If a driver’s BAC level has clocked in over the legal limit, it might be easy to assume that they’ve been caught and the best thing to do is accept any plea agreement that the District Attorney’s office might offer. That’s not always the case. Breathalyzer tests are far from perfect, and a good Baton Rouge DUI attorney will do appropriate due diligence in making sure there was probable cause to request the test to begin with, and that its results are accurate.
Any number of factors can skew a breathalyzer into an inaccurate reading. Mouthwash and breath spray are common substances to use before going out for an evening on the town or to a party. Both of those substances can make BAC levels look higher than they actually are. The same goes for cough syrup and gum.
Bread and other sugary foods are often served at events where this is alcohol. Both of these can have the impact of exaggerating one’s BAC level.
Common health conditions can also increase the BAC reading on the breathalyzer machine. The person with acid reflux might blow a higher number than they otherwise would. The same goes for those with diabetes.
Furthermore, all of these issues presume that the breathalyzer equipment itself is in working order and that the officer understands how to properly use it. Breathalyzers have requirements for how often they need to be recalibrated. Officers have to go through the formal training to make sure they understand its proper use. It’s the responsibility of law enforcement to demonstrate to the court that their equipment works as it should and police officers understand how to use it.
Police officers do need probable cause to even perform a breathalyzer test to begin with. It should be noted, however, that probable cause is a low bar. The officer who saw someone driving away from a drinking establishment likely has probable cause simply based on that. The same goes for seeing a driver modestly cross over the center line or run afoul of other traffic laws. Probable cause can be established if there is any alcohol at all on the driver’s breath.
That’s why it’s strongly advised that a driver comply when asked to perform a breathalyzer test. If no probable cause exists, that’s something a Baton Rouge DUI lawyer can look into. If it turns out the officer overstepped their bounds, the results of the test can be thrown out. And in a DUI case, dismissal of this evidence can often add up to outright dismissal of the entire case.
Blood tests are more reliable than breathalyzers, although an attorney can still look into whether proper chain of custody was maintained for the sample. But drivers should know that the only way police have the authority to conduct a blood test is with a search warrant or with the consent of the driver. That’s why it’s strongly advised to have a lawyer present before giving any consent.
Why Choose Us?
DUI charges can change a person’s life in the blink of an eye. The sinking feeling in the pit of one’s stomach when the flashing lights of the police car can be truly awful, and the results of a breathalyzer test might induce a sense of hopelessness. Beall & Thies is here to tell you that still can be hope.
Not everyone charged with DUI is guilty. Everyone charged with DUI deserves fair treatment, a thorough investigation of their case and—regardless of the circumstances—their best chance at moving forward in life when it’s over. We’re here to fight for all of that.
Here are several benefits of hiring our Baton Rouge DUI lawyers:
- Expertise and Experience: When you hire a DUI lawyer from our firm, you benefit from our experience and expertise in handling DUI cases. We understand the intricacies of DUI laws, local court procedures, and potential defense strategies.
- Legal Knowledge: Our DUI lawyers stay up-to-date with the latest developments in DUI laws and regulations. We can provide you with accurate legal advice and help you navigate the complex legal system.
- Customized Defense Strategies: Every DUI case is unique. We will work closely with you to tailor a defense strategy that takes into account the specific circumstances of your case. This personalized approach can significantly impact the outcome of your case.
- Protection of Your Rights: We are dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights throughout the legal process. We will ensure that law enforcement followed proper procedures during your arrest and that your rights were not violated.
- Negotiation Skills: Our DUI lawyers are skilled negotiators. We can work with prosecutors to potentially reduce charges or negotiate plea deals that may lessen the penalties you face.
- Court Representation: If your case goes to trial, we will provide strong and effective representation in court. We will present your case, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.
- Minimization of Penalties: Our goal is to minimize the potential consequences of a DUI conviction, such as fines, license suspension, and jail time. We will work diligently to help you avoid or reduce these penalties.
- Access to Resources: We have access to resources, experts, and investigators who can assist in building a solid defense. This can include obtaining evidence, witness testimonies, and expert witnesses when necessary.
- Peace of Mind: Hiring a DUI lawyer from our firm can provide you with peace of mind during a challenging time. You can rely on our legal expertise to guide you through the process and provide support when you need it most.
- Increased Chances of a Favorable Outcome: With our knowledge and experience, you have a better chance of achieving a favorable outcome in your DUI case, whether through a dismissal, reduction of charges, or a minimized sentence.
We’ve been here fighting for clients for over 20 years. Collectively, our attorneys have over 100 years of experience. We know law enforcement isn’t perfect, we know defendants deserve fairness and we know exactly how to go about fighting for that fairness in a court of law.
"Never expected to be in a predicament where I would need to hire an attorney but, I wouldn’t recommend anyone but, B&T. They helped my father in his predicament and they’ve helped me in mine. Continuous support throughout the entire process"Den'a Wells
"They are professional and go above and beyond customer satisfaction. I was informed every step of the way on updates and case progress. I highly recommend this firm for all your legal needs!! I am thankful for all they have done for me!!"Barb Nemerovsky
"Beall & Thies was very welcoming. I would definitely recommend them. My attorney, Aaron Humphrey didn’t only make sure I didn’t have to worry about my case, but also treated me like I mattered. Thanks for everything you guys did for me and "Chrystal Woods Graham
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Russell W. Beall
"Russell W. Beall is a founding partner in the Baton Rouge law firm of Beall & Thies LLC. His main emphasis of practice is on Civil Litigation including Torts, Products Liability, and Premises Liability. Russell is a frequent guest speaker at Louisiana State University Law School where he participates in the Appellate Advocacy Program and the Professionalism Orientation. He earned his B.A. degree at Louisiana State University (1998) and his J.D Louisiana State University Law School (2001). Russell is an active member of the Louisiana Association for Justice and is frequently invited to be a guest speaker at continuing legal education seminars."Read Full Bio
William W. Thies
"William W. Thies was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1974 moving with his family to Slidell, Louisiana at seven years of age. Mr. Thies graduated from Slidell High School in 1992. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in history and political science from Louisiana State University in 1996 and his Juris Doctorate from the Southern University Law Center in 2001. He was admitted to the Louisiana State Bar Association in May 2002. He is a member of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, American Bar Associations, and the Louisiana Association of Justice. He is admitted to practice in all state courts, the United States District Court for the Middle and Eastern Districts of Louisiana, as well as the United States Supreme Court."Read Full Bio
"Jacob H. Thomas is originally from the Piney Hills of North Louisiana, known for producing great litigators such as Huey P. Long as well as several other notable statesmen on the both the federal and state levels.Read Full Bio
Jake is a graduate of Jonesboro-Hodge High School and Northwestern State University where he was a member of the Theta Mu chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, the NSU Presidential Leadership Program, and the Inter-Fraternity Council serving as Vice President."
"Aaron Humphreys joined Beall & Thies, LLC as an associate attorney in the fall of 2016. He was admitted to the Louisiana State Bar Association in May of 2016. Aaron is also a member of the Baton Rouge Bar Association and the Louisiana Association of Justice."Read Full Bio
"George G. Caballero practices general civil law and focuses on plaintiff’s personal injury, wills, and successions. George joined Beall & Thies as of counsel in 2017 after starting Caballero Law Firm in 1993. Mr. Caballero has over thirty years of experience as an attorney and has served clients in various matters ranging from business and tort litigation, business, family law, and successions.Read Full Bio
Mr. Caballero is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University and Mississippi College School of Law. Upon graduation, he immediately went into the private practice of law, practicing in both Louisiana and Mississippi."
Jewel “Trae” E. Welch, III
"Trae is a lifelong resident of the Baker-Zachary area. Trae is the son of The Honorable Judge Duke Welch, currently presiding on the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals, and former East Baton Rouge Councilwoman, Roxson Welch. Trae is married to the former Lynn Caldwell of Tallulah, Louisiana. Together Trae and Lynn are raising their two children Quade and Vivian."Read Full Bio