As you celebrate the arrival of the 2013 New Year and toast to the passing of 2012, keep in mind that officers with the D.C. Metro Police Department will be out in droves – in the form of saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints – scouring the roads for drunk drivers.
D.C. DUI lawyers understand that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released a report indicating that 1 in 10 motorists report that they may have driven when their alcohol level was over the limit at some point over the past year. On New Year’s Eve, those numbers tend to be far higher. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that between 2000 and 2009, an average of 80 drivers were killed every year on New Year’s Day – which is about 2.5 times what it would be on any other day of the week this time of year.
While the police department has yet to officially confirm that checkpoints will be established this holiday, but when it comes to New Year’s Eve, DUI checkpoints have become as traditional – and plentiful – as champagne.
It’s always best to find an alternative to getting behind the wheel after drinking. This will also allow you to avoid the possibility of causing injury or death, which would obviously lead to more serious criminal charges.
But if you are stopped and arrested at a DUI checkpoint, it’s important to know that if you are quick to hire a defense attorney, there may be ample opportunity to have your charges reduced or possibly even dismissed. The grounds on which this would be possible would depend on your individual circumstances. You need to know that there is no such thing as an open-and-shut DUI case.
A big factor in your defense may be the specific actions taken by the officers. In D.C., it is imperative for police officers holding a sobriety checkpoint to have ample warning of the upcoming checkpoint and they must only stop cars at random.
Police agencies tend to be pretty good about sending out releases to local media outlets in advance of a checkpoint, but there is always an off chance that someone dropped the ball.
With regard to random steps, you have to understand that in every traffic stop, an officer must have probable cause upon which to stop you. Without this element, the case is easily dismissible. However, in the case of DUI checkpoints, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that officers don’t need probable cause – so long as each car they stop is done so at random.
So for example, officers have to stop, say, every 6th car. This may seem fairly straightforward, but on a hectic night like New Year’s Eve, it’s easy for officers to become distracted and lose count.
But even if neither of these applies to your situation, there are a multitude of other DUI offenses that your lawyer may be able to apply.
With regard to breathalyzer tests, there is always the possibility to challenge the results based on instrument malfunction or improper handling by officers. There are also certain medical conditions that have been known to cause false positives. These include ailments such as heartburn, acid reflux or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
There are similar challenges that may apply with regard to blood alcohol tests, including improper storage, contamination or fermentation.
So drink responsibly, drive safely – but call us as soon as possible if you are arrested.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-946-5783.