In The News
Nov/Dec 2009 Issue

Louisiana toughens its DWI law

With impaired driver-related crashes accounting for nearly half of all highway deaths in Louisiana, the state has made its DWI law tougher on those who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Under the new law, a suspect who refuses to take a breathalyzer test will lose his or her license for one year, up from the previous six-month penalty. If a person refuses the test more than once in a five-year period, the driver’s license will be suspended for two years, an increase from 18 months.

The measure was introduced because blood alcohol content can be the most important piece of evidence in a trial, and without it, prosecution of drunk drivers can be difficult. When Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the measure into law, he noted that Louisiana has one of the highest rates of refusal to submit to a breathalyzer in the nation, about 39 percent, compared to the national average of 22 percent.

The new law also eliminates the possibility of obtaining a hardship license so the motorist can drive to work or school if a fatality or serious injury crash occurred as a result of driving while intoxicated.

Under another new law, it is now a criminal offense to drive with a suspended license due to a previous conviction for DWI, vehicular manslaughter or vehicular negligent injuring. In the past, drivers who were stopped and had a suspended license would be ticketed and released. Now the violator can be arrested and face a minimum of 15 days in jail with a possible maximum sentence of six months.

Large trucks will stop quicker with new brake rules

Motorists who cringe at the thought of sharing the road with big trucks will applaud stringent new braking standards for large trucks that will improve stopping distances by 30 percent.

Issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the new standard requires that a tractor-trailer traveling at 60 mph come to a complete stop in 250 feet. The old standard mandated a complete stop within 335 feet.

The new regulation, which will be phased in over four years beginning with 2012 models, is expected to save 227 lives yearly and prevent 300 serious injuries.

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