YOU AND THE LAW ™: I am writing this article to clear up a few misconceptions about Louisiana’s DWI Law. It is not illegal to drink and drive; it is illegal to drink and drive impaired. A Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .05 and under is a legal presumption of non-impairment. A BAC of .08 or above is a legal presumption of impairment. A BAC between .051 and .079 falls into a grey area and a conviction can be established by a motorist failing what is known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST): this is a test an officer would ask one to perform if the officer believes he smells alcohol on one’s breath. The SFST is a three prong test wherein the officer checks one’s eyes for visible jerking by asking the motorist to follow a pen or stimulus, a walk-and-turn test and a one-leg-stand test. Motorist are NOT required to take the Standardized Field Sobriety Test regardless what any officer may say, and there are no penalties under Louisiana Law for refusing to submit to the Standardized Field Sobriety Test. As one certified in the administration of the SFST, it is my opinion the SFST is designed to fail and I would never recommend anyone submit to the test. The real decision to be made is whether a motorist should provide or refuse a breath sample. Driving suspensions kick in if a motorist has a BAC of .08 or higher or refuses to provide a breath sample. The safest bet is to never place one’s self in a position where a decision must be made to provide or refuse a breath sample.
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