Louisiana’s Implied Consent Laws and Refusing an Alcohol Test

The requirement to submit to a blood or breath test in Louisiana and the penalties of an unlawful refusal.

Louisiana prohibits the operation of any vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. To prove a DUI in court, prosecutors often use the results of blood, urine, or breath tests, which show the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the amount of drugs in the driver’s system.

Implied Consent

Louisiana’s “implied consent” law states that any person who operates a vehicle on a Louisiana highway is deemed to have given consent to a breath, blood, or urine test. To require testing, an officer must have probable cause to believe the motorist was driving under the influence.

Drivers who unlawfully refuse testing face license-related administrative and possible criminal consequences. Also, a driver’s refusal doesn’t necessarily mean the end of it. When a driver refuses testing, the arresting officer can request a search warrant to obtain a blood sample. If a judge issues the warrant, the officer can direct medical personnel to draw blood from the driver. With a warrant, law enforcement can use force if necessary.

Consequences of an Unlawful Refusal

License suspension. Drivers who refuse to submit to a lawfully requested blood, urine, or breath test face a one-year license suspension. A second or subsequent test refusal within ten years will result in a two-year license suspension.

Restricted license. Unless the OWI (operating while intoxicated) event resulted in an injury or a death, the suspended driver can request a restricted license after installing an ignition interlock device (IID). This license authorizes the holder to drive during the suspension period with the IID.

Evidentiary uses. The fact that a driver refused testing can also be used by the prosecutor in an OWI trial. In other words, the prosecutor can argue to the jury that the driver refused testing to hide intoxication.

Criminal charges. A driver who refuses testing and has either two prior refusals or causes a fatality or serious bodily injury may face criminal charges. For a conviction, the driver is looking at:

  • $300 to $1,000 in fines, and
  • ten days to six months in jail.

The driver may be eligible for probation on the condition that he or she serves at least 48 hours in jail, completes 32 hours of community service, participates in a substance abuse program, and completes a driver improvement program.

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