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D.C. DUIs Spike During Spring Break

by | Mar 8, 2013

A tragic case in Panama City, Florida recently concluded as an out-of-state spring breaker was convicted of a hit-and-run crash involving a 23-year-old driver who struck and killed a 23-year-old pedestrian.

The driver has been convicted and faces anywhere from 2 to 30 years behind bars. The driver said she had thought she hit a traffic cone, but jurors deliberated just 1.5 hours before deciding the driver should have known she had actually struck a person.

Our D.C. DUI defense attorneys know that with spring break fast approaching, we will see an increase in the number of DUI arrests, despite the fact that D.C. isn’t historically known as a prime vacation destination.

The D.C.-area is home to nine four-year institutions, including American University, Howard University and Georgetown University, and many of those students will be staying local during their week-long break. That doesn’t mean they won’t  be heading out to party.

There is certainly nothing wrong with having a good time (assuming you are at least 21), but those who take their chances drinking and driving should know that they are going to face tougher charges than they would have last year.

That’s because unlike last year, D.C. police are once again using breathalyzer tests to measure blood alcohol content, following a two-year hiatus on the devices due to inaccurate results. Additionally, tougher DUI penalties were enacted last summer – and that includes for first-time offenders.

Among those penalty changes, first-time offenders’ penalties were markedly increased. Rather than a maximum $300 fine and a 90-day jail sentence, now, they face a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of up to 180 days.

If you are caught driving intoxicated with someone under the age of 18 in your vehicle, you will face a minimum mandatory of five days in jail.

Virginia too recently upped the penalties for DUI, with first-time offenders now subject to mandatory installation of ignition interlock systems in their vehicles.

A recent study found that between 45 percent and 75 percent of college students became intoxicated during spring break. This obviously increases the potential for drinking and driving, especially considering that individuals who are on vacation tend to have an “anything goes” mentality to begin with.

Many police agencies, including local D.C. forces, will likely be upping their normal patrols in anticipation of this.

With that in mind, keep the following in mind as you prepare to enjoy your time off – whether you are heading out of town or staying local:

  • Don’t let your friends drive drunk. If you see someone about to make a bad decision like that, step in.
  • Try not to rely on vehicles as your primary mode of transportation. Call a taxi, take the Metro or catch a bus. If you’re heading out of town, try to book a hotel that is close to the action so you aren’t tempted to drive yourself.
  • Determine how you are going to get home before you leave. Designate a sober driver or arrange another mode of transportation in advance.
  • If you are going to drive, don’t do so with open containers. If you’re stopped, an open container in plain view can be used as probable cause for a search, which is likely to result in your arrest for, at minimum, an open container.
  • If you are pulled over, be polite and courteous, but decline to answer questions other than your giving your name, age, address, license, vehicle registration and insurance information.
  • If you are arrested, do not become combative with the officer. Resolve to call an experienced attorney as soon as you are able. We will help you handle it from there.

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