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What happens when I'm stopped for drunk driving?

Traffic stops are often seen as a routine, albeit inconvenient, aspect of driving. However, for those accused of driving while under the influence, a traffic stop may be anything but. Many drunk driving charges in Louisiana stem from traffic stops, and it is important for drivers to understand the process.

Police will usually initiate a traffic stop if they observe erratic behavior from the person behind the wheel. This may include driving slowly, speeding, swerving, failing to stop or yield, and more. Although attending officers may first try to assess whether there was another reason for such erratic behavior, they may suspect that a driver is intoxicated if they smell alcohol or notice any slurred speech and request that he or she take part in field sobriety tests.

Field sobriety tests involve drivers physically exiting their vehicles and performing a series of tasks. Although these tasks may vary, some of the most popular include standing on just one leg, walking a straight line and a speech test. If drivers fail one or more of these tasks, they will usually be asked to submit to blood-alcohol testing.

A driver's blood-alcohol content -- BAC -- shows how much alcohol is in their system. This is commonly tested through a Breathalyzer, in which a driver blows into the machine and his or her BAC is determined. However, in some cases, blood or urine tests can also be effective at determining BAC. Anything above .08 percent is considered intoxicated and will likely lead to drunk driving charges.

Jail time, fines and loss of driving privileges are serious concerns for drivers accused of driving while under the influence of alcohol. These potential consequences have significant real-world implications in Louisiana, and can cause some to miss out on important employment and educational opportunities. Most people can minimize this impact by beginning criminal defense preparations for their drunk driving charges as early as possible, which can help them achieve the best possible outcome for their unique situation.

Source: FindLaw, "DUI Traffic Stop FAQs", Dec. 26, 2017

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