New DWI law means tougher penalties for drivers

By Brandon Richards

LAKE CHARLES - Louisiana drivers will now face tougher penalties if they refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Under Act 288, a driver can have his or her license suspended for up to one year, if they refuse to take the test. If a driver refuses to take the test more than once, within five years, he or she could have his license suspended for two years.

"It enhances the penalty so that hopefully they will submit," Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said. "And of course, if they're not guilty, they'll submit anyway and it will show that they have not been drinking."

According to the LSU Highway Safety Research Group, about forty percent of Louisiana drivers refuse to submit to a  breathalyzer test every year.

Critics of the new law say the state's breathalyzer tests do not meet the national standard.

But local authorities, like Mancuso, are standing behind the law and say it will protect people from drunk drivers.