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With the height of the busiest travel season upon us, drivers should fully anticipate an increase in law enforcement presence on the roadways, as many agencies are revving up their forces.
December is undoubtedly one of the boozier months of the year, particularly with the combination of high school and college students on winter break and the onslaught of holiday parties.
Between 2007 and 2011, there were approximately 4,200 people killed nationwide in December crashes in which one or more drivers had a blood-alcohol level that exceeded 0.08 percent.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that between Christmas and New Year's Day, the average number of daily crashes spikes by 25 percent. On New Year's Day alone, we might even expect a 55 percent increase, the agency reports.
However, our D.C. DUI defense lawyers are hopeful that arrests made over the Thanksgiving holiday in various jurisdiction foreshadows what may be to come. A number of agencies throughout the country noted a decrease in the number of drunk drivers throughout that weekend.
In spite of this, officials in numerous areas have announced their intention to use federal grant money to initiate a blitz of sober driving checkpoints, wolf pack patrols and phantom checkpoints through the beginning of the year. The grant money helps cover the additional costs of officer overtime, equipment use and other expenses that can be associated with increased enforcement.
Officers consider the prior announcement of checkpoints a "fair warning" to all holiday party-goers.
Mounting a successful defense in these cases sometimes involves attacking an agency's prior notice of the sobriety checkpoint. In other cases, it involves their method. In some cases, challenges to the breathalyzer test results are quite effective. Other times, we zero in on the way in which officers allege to have established reasonable suspicion to stop drivers in the first place.
While these approaches, when employed by an experienced defense attorney, are quite successful, we recognize that it's always preferable to avoid an arrest when possible. In that vein, we offer up the following advice:
- Understand that if you are an adult over the age of 21, you have the right to drink. However, you must also understand that even a single drink has the potential to cause some degree of impairment. Skipping the alcohol altogether is the best way to avoid a DUI arrest.
- If you choose to drink. make travel arrangements ahead of time. Plan to stay where you are or designate a sober driver to return you where you need to go.
- Know and respect your own limits with regard to alcohol consumption. Designate ahead of time a set number of drinks you will allow yourself to consume, and then stick to it. Have a friend help to hold you accountable to this limit.
- If you fail to plan appropriately, there is always the option of a taxi or public transportation. In the alternative, consider calling a family member or friend to come get you. Better than calling them up several hours later to request help with bail.
- If you are arrested, remember to be cooperative, but quiet. The idea is to give them as little evidence against you as possible. Make sure your first phone call is to an experienced defense lawyer.
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