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Do I have to agree to a breathalyzer test in Louisiana?

By December 8, 2021March 21st, 2024No Comments

If you have been pulled over by a police officer in Louisiana on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), then you may be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. 

You may wonder if you have to take the breathalyzer test, and the answer is somewhat complicated, and it all revolved around implied consent. 

Our Baton Rouge-based attorneys at Pierce & Shows have decades of experience with DUI cases. Read on to learn from our team about implied consent in Louisiana and what it could mean for you if you get pulled over.

What Is Implied Consent?

If you have a driver’s license in the state of Louisiana, then you are providing your implied consent to take a breathalyzer or other chemical test if asked by a police officer. 

Louisiana state law dictates that you have tacitly agreed to cooperate with law enforcement if requested when you obtain a driver’s license. Although there may not be a formal statement on the forms you sign upon licensing, the state assumes that you agree to this arrangement.

The courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have upheld implied consent laws based on the need to maintain public safety by identifying and apprehending drivers operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances.

In fact, you do not even need to have a driver’s license for you to come under the authority of Louisiana’s implied consent laws. If you are operating a vehicle on a Louisiana road—even without a license—then state law dictates that you have given your implied consent. 

Furthermore, “operating” a motor vehicle does not require that the automobile is in motion; you may be asked to take a breathalyzer test even if your vehicle is turned off.

What Happens If You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Louisiana?

Although you have given your implied consent by operating a car in Louisiana, you may technically refuse to take a breathalyzer test. 

The on-site police officer cannot force you to take a breathalyzer test, but such a refusal is often interpreted by the courts as evidence of driving under the influence. Additionally, implied consent permits the police officer to search your vehicle and person for any evidence of substance abuse. 

A refusal to take a breathalyzer test is often sufficient probable cause to administer a blood test. First, however, the police must obtain a search warrant from a judge. Once the search warrant has been authorized, then the arresting officer may pull blood for a sample. 

If you choose not to submit to a breathalyzer test, then you may end up facing several consequences.

  • License suspension—an initial breathalyzer test refusal will result in a one-year license suspension. A second refusal will produce a two-year suspension.
  • Restricted license—an ignition interlock device may be placed on the vehicle. 
  • Criminal charges—if you refuse  to take a breathalyzer test, and you have at least two prior refusals, or have caused a death or serious bodily injury, you may face $300 to $1,000 in fines as well as from 10 days to 6 months in jail.

Contact Pierce & Shows Today

As you can see, it’s a difficult choice to make when asked to take a breathalyzer. But if you are facing DUI or other charges related to a refused breathalyzer test, turn to one of Baton Rouge’s most trusted law firms. Pierce & Shows has more than 50 years of collective experience defending Louisiana clients. Talk to one of our lawyers today.

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