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New Louisiana DUI laws signed by Governor Bobby Jindal

A string of six proposals that enhance penalties for drinking and driving have been signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal. In addition to boosting DUI penalties, the six new laws crack down on repeat offenders and give police officers multiple ways to test suspects for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Past efforts, in the form of ongoing state initiatives against drunk drivers, have already caused a 34 percent decline in fatal drunk driving accidents over the past five years, according to data from Louisiana State University. Alcohol-related crashes that involve injuries were also down by 17 percent over the same period of time.

Though numbers are down and the public is safer now than it was five years ago, reports show that Louisiana still ranks in the top 10 states for alcohol-related fatal crashes. The majority of bills signed by the governor were proposed by Senator Jonathan Perry, who is a member of the governor's DWI-Vehicular Homicide Task Force.

Many other bills failed to pass in the legislature, including one that would have required a 48-hour automatic prison term for offenders who register a .15 percent or higher blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, even for first time offenders. One of the measures that did pass clarified the language in some statutes to indicate an officer can use more than one type of test to evaluate whether a person is over the legal limit for alcohol or impaired by drugs.

Another measure cleared up language that made it vague whether refusing to take one of the other tests would result in the automatic suspension of a drivers' license. And yet another measure allows a judge to issue an interlock ignition device with a restricted license for three-time offenders after 45 days, as long as the person is in good standing with the court. Under previous law, a third-time offender had his or her driver's license revoked for three years.

An experienced DUI defense attorney can be invaluable in helping anyone accused of drinking and driving either fight the charges, get them reduced or avoid a possible the suspension of your driver's license through alternative sentencing. Community service or attendance at alcohol education classes can go a long way in reducing the fallout after a DUI arrest.

Source: The News Star, "Louisiana lawmakers crack down on drunken drivers," June 13, 2012

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