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D.C. Designated Drivers Should Avoid Drinking

by | Dec 26, 2013

Three friends were recently arrested for DUI, all stemming from the same incident.

The first woman was pulled over after a traffic officer in New Jersey noticed her swerving. She was arrested on a charge of DUI and taken to the local police station for processing. There, she called a friend to come pick her up.

That friend drove to the station and was working to fill out the necessary paperwork when the officer in the lobby noticed she seemed intoxicated as well. She failed a field sobriety test in the lobby and was subsequently also arrested for DUI. She received an additional charge of drug possession for pills she had in her purse for which she reportedly did not have a prescription.

At that point, both women contacted a third friend to come get them both. The officer in the lobby noted that he too seemed impaired. He also failed a field sobriety test and was subsequently arrested.

In the end, a fourth friend was called to pick up all three. Thankfully, that person was deemed sober enough to drive.

The case has garnered national headlines in the “Weird News” section of many media outlets.

D.C. DUI attorneys know that the incident isn’t so much “weird” as it is troubling. It underscores the fact that often, people are poor judges of the degree to which they may be considered intoxicated under the law.

This is an important point to drive home ahead of the many new year’s celebrations that are soon to be held.

A study published earlier this year in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that designated sober drivers were frequently not entirely sober themselves. While 65 percent had no blood-alcohol content, 17 percent registered somewhere between a 0.02 percent to 0.049 percent. Another 18 percent of designated drivers measured at 0.05 percent or higher.

What this revealed was that “designated drivers” were so chosen not necessarily because they were sober, but because they had drank the least within the group.

For those planning to imbibe this New Year’s Eve, this is an important distinction.

There is nothing illegal about drinking alcohol before you drive, unless you are a minor. The problem arises when you begin to display evidence of intoxication or when your blood-alcohol level exceeds the statutory maximum of 0.08 percent.

Because everyone’s metabolism works differently, there are cases in which a person’s blood-alcohol level could exceed that 0.08 percent, yet he or she not actually intoxicated. However, that doesn’t matter under the law.

It’s worth noting that an officer can arrest you for DUI even if you have a blood-alcohol level that is below 0.08 percent, so long as the officer establishes that you appeared to be impaired. Usually, this is done through field sobriety tests. These cases don’t stand up as well in court, but they do sometimes result in convictions.

The best way to avoid a DUI arrest this holiday season is to designate a driver who is 100 percent sober. But if you are arrested, make sure to clarify that the person picking you up hasn’t been drinking as well. The next call you make should be to an experienced DUI defense lawyer.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.