The holidays are a joyous, happy time for many. For others, though, holiday celebrations lead to DUI arrests or accidents. It’s important for all drivers, whether they are drinking or not, to understand the seasonal risks of DUI in the upcoming month. Our team at Tillotson & Martin, LLC has put together this comprehensive guide about winter holiday DUI.
Does DUI Increase At This Time of Year?
Without a doubt, the holiday season means more time socializing, more parties, more time off from work, and more joy. All of these factors lead to an increase in alcohol consumption for most adults. Because of this, more drivers also make the choice to get behind the wheel after drinking. While options like Uber and Lyft have decreased overall rates of drunk driving, it still occurs frequently as many people want to avoid having to pick up their car the next morning.
Winter holidays with high DUI rates include:
- Blackout Wednesday (the night before Thanksgiving)
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Eve
- Christmas Day
- New Year’s Eve
- New Year’s Day
If you are on the roads at these times, you should use caution.
How The Police Catch Impaired Drivers on Holidays
Law enforcement doesn’t take the holidays off. In fact, there may be even more officers out patrolling the roads than usual. The police are actively searching for impaired drivers over the winter holidays, so they are quick to act on drivers who make any road violations.
Drivers may be pulled over for:
- Running red lights
- Ignoring street signs
- Excessive braking
- Erratic movements
- Vehicle violations
During the initial traffic stop, the officer may notice evidence that makes them believe the driver is impaired. This may be if they smell alcohol coming from the driver’s breath or vehicle, if the driver appears dazed, or if the driver is slurring their words/unable to communicate. If the officer has reason to believe the driver is under the influence, then the traffic stop may turn into a DUI investigation. If this occurs, the driver will likely be asked to participate in sobriety tests. If the driver fails any of the sobriety tests (breath test or field sobriety tests), they may be arrested and charged with DUI. However, because officers are eager to make DUI arrests over the holidays, this means many innocent drivers could face criminal charges after the officer makes an illegal or unwarranted arrest.
Anticipate Sobriety Checkpoints!
Sobriety checkpoints can be used year-round but should stay top of mind for drivers over the holidays. Sobriety checkpoints are set up so police officers can catch a higher quantity of impaired drivers in a small area. This method also allows the officers to stay in one place rather than drive around to different locations to patrol.
If a driver is stopped when going through a sobriety checkpoint, the events will be similar to those during a regular traffic stop. If the officer finds any evidence that they are impaired, they could be arrested.
Avoid a DUI Charge This Holiday Season
No one wants to deal with a criminal charge over the holidays. Take steps to avoid this by only driving when you’re sober. Plan ahead for how you’re getting to and from holiday parties, and ensure you aren’t drinking to excess if you are driving later in the evening.
If you are driving and are pulled over, then knowing your rights is the best protection you have.
You don’t have to admit to drinking; you have the right to remain silent
You don’t have to take field sobriety tests
You generally don’t have to consent to a search of your vehicle
DUI Defense in Virginia
If you are charged with a DUI in Virginia this holiday season, our attorneys at Tillotson & Martin, LLC are here to help you. Whether you are a Virginia resident or you were visiting from another state, we can help you fight your case. Many times, DUI cases are dismissed after it’s proven there is a lack of evidence or the driver’s rights were violated in some way during the stop. We can get to the bottom of this and ultimately find the best defense for your unique case. Share the details of your charges with our team during an initial consultation; click here to reach out today.