When you are arrested on suspicion of DWI, you may have the choice to submit to or refuse a chemical blood-alcohol test. If you choose to refuse, there may be certain consequences that go with refusing, such as the suspension of your driver’s license for a year. However, in some cases, you may be entitled to an immediate reinstatement of your license, as opposed to waiting for a year to pass. One driver arrested in Ascension Parish was entitled to such an immediate reinstatement, according to the Louisiana Court of Appeal, since the state failed to show that he had been previously arrested for DWI within the last 10 years.
The driver who contested his license suspension was Jay Veasman, whom law enforcement officers arrested for DWI in April 2013. Veasman was informed of his rights and elected to refuse a chemical blood-alcohol test. The state suspended Veasman’s license, and an administrative law judge determined that the suspension was proper. A trial court judge, however, disagreed and reinstated the driver’s driving privileges.
The state Department of Public Safety appealed but lost. One aspect of the case that favored the driver was the plea deal he worked out in his criminal trial. Although he was originally charged with DWI, Veasman and the state agreed to an arrangement in which the state dropped the DWI charge, and the driver pled guilty to Careless Operation of a Motor Vehicle. Since the impaired driving-related charges were dismissed, the 2013 incident alone could not stand in the way of the man’s immediate license reinstatement.
Even though the state dropped the DWI charge, the department contended the law still allowed it to suspend Veasman’s license. The statutes state that a driver is not entitled to immediate reinstatement of his license if his refusal of the test was related to his “second or subsequent arrest” for DWI. The department pointed to a 2009 incident that would, if it counted, make the 2013 arrest Veaman’s second. The department made its determination based upon the driver’s driving record, which contained an entry stating that, on Nov. 1, 2009, Veasman refused a chemical test and had his license suspended for 365 days.
This was not evidence of an earlier DWI arrest, however, but only proof that Veasman previously refused a chemical test and got his license suspended as a result, the court reasoned. The fact that, in that 2009 event, the driver got his license back before the 365 days had expired also weighed in Veasman’s favor, indicating that “there may have been an issue with the alleged arrest.” There was simply too much ambiguity and uncertainty surrounding the 2009 incident to say that the department had competent evidence of a previous DWI arrest. Since the 2009 incident did not count as a prior arrest, the 2013 refusal did not count as a “second or subsequent arrest,” and Veasman was entitled to immediate reinstatement of his driving privileges.
While everyone should take care to ensure that they never get behind the wheel while impaired due to drugs or alcohol, the law also imposes limits on what the state can do with regard to demanding submission to blood-alcohol tests and loss of driving privileges. As you weigh the options available to you regarding your DWI arrest, talk to an attorney upon whom you can rely for knowledgeable advice and zealous representation. The experienced Louisiana DWI attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm have helped many people facing similar situations and can assist you too.
For a confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.
More blog posts:
Louisiana Supreme Court Permits Imposing Fees for Investigation, Prosecution Costs in DWI Cases, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Oct. 29, 2015
The Impact of Refusing a Blood-Alcohol Test on Your Louisiana Driver’s License, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, June 15, 2015