The attorneys at GillespieShields practice family, employment, civil, criminal, probate, appellate, and immigration law.
Although it may be traditional to get into the “holiday spirits” at your holiday gatherings, a healthy dose of caution is in order. Here are five points to keep in mind to ensure your happy holiday isn’t marred by tragedy.
1. It’s a Matter of Life and Death
When under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your ability to operate your vehicle safely is considerably impaired. The probability that you may be involved in a serious auto accident is greatly increased. If you choose to drive while under the influence, you could be responsible for the death or serious injury of yourself, your loved ones, or even innocent bystanders. 10,497 people died in alcohol-related accidents in 2016. On average, that’s about 29 deaths a day, or 1 every 50 minutes. That’s roughly the same number of people that were killed in gun-related homicides that same year. When you consider your vehicle’s terrible potential for causing mayhem and injury, the severity of the crime becomes clear.
2. You Will Probably be Arrested
The police are well aware of the heightened probability of intoxicated drivers over the holidays, and will be present on the roads to enforce the law. According to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, 53,000 drivers were stopped between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. In 2017, close to 67,000 motorists were stopped statewide during that same time frame, and 73,000 were stopped in the 2018 holiday season. In 2016 between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, officers made 2,234 total DUI arrests, compared with 2.434 in 2017 and 2,727 in 2018, so you can see that the numbers traffic stops and DUI arrests are steadily increasing each year.
Be aware that being pulled over for a DUI is not like getting pulled over for speeding. You’re not just going to get a ticket and then be sent on your way. You will be arrested. The police will probably ask you to complete a field sobriety test, such as the “walk and turn” or “one-leg stand,” tasks which are very difficult to complete while intoxicated. If you fail a field sobriety test or if the police suspect you are intoxicated, you will be asked to complete a breath, blood or urine test. It is the officer’s discretion as to which of these you must complete. If you fail this test as well, the police will not be giving you a free ride home—rather, they will take you into custody and give you a ride down to the station, where you will be booked and detained. Your vehicle will likely be impounded as well.
3. If Convicted, you will go to Jail and Pay a Large Fine
Driving under the influence is a serious crime and carries severe penalties. If you are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, you will automatically lose your driver’s license for at least 90 days. If you refuse to take any tests when arrested, you’ll lose your driving privileges for a full year. Even if it’s your first offense, you will still go to jail for at least ten days and pay a fine of at least $1,250, not including additional assessments levied by the court, which could cost you several thousand dollars more. You will also have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car for a full year and undergo alcohol screening/education/treatment. Finally. you may also be ordered to perform community service and be under probation for 3 years.
4. You Have Other Options to get Home Safely
Be aware that the penalties increase with the severity of the crime, as well as whether you are a repeat offender. Arizona has increased penalties for Extreme DUI (BAC over .15%), Super Extreme DUI (BAC over .20%), and Aggravated DUI (DUI with a suspended license, a 3rd offense within a 7 year period, or DUI with a child in the vehicle). The size of the fines, the length of the jail sentences and the various penalties all increase in severity. For example, if convicted of Aggravated DUI (depending on the nature of the crime), you could be looking at upwards of $4,000 in fines and assessments, as much as 8 months in prison, a mandatory 12 month suspension of your license, 24 months with an IID in your car, and mandatory drug screenings (and if you don’t comply with the drug screenings, you could go to prison for up to 2 years).
Driving under the influence is just not worth the risk, especially when you consider the many different options you have to get home safely. It’s common for people to have a friend stay sober so he or she can act as a “designated driver” to ensure everyone gets home safely. You can also arrange for a ride from a friend or family member, call a taxi, or arrange for a Lyft, Uber, or Sidecar driver to pick you up. You could also take public transportation, such as a bus or train.
It can be difficult to make transportation arrangements once intoxicated, so it’s always best to make plans well ahead of time. Here are several ways you can plan ahead:
- Go to a bar within walking distance of your home or lodgings.
- Arrange to get a ride with a friend before you go out to a bar.
- Download the Lyft or Uber app to your phone in advance.
- Make sure you have a copy of your local bus or train schedule on hand.
- If travelling out-of-town, write your hotel address on a piece of paper so your taxi driver will know where to take you.
Refrain from drinking if you are unable to make arrangements for safe transportation.
5. You’re at a Loss Without an Attorney
You need the help of an attorney to get the best possible outcome in a DUI situation. Representing yourself is not a good idea. The laws concerning DUIs are complex and vary from state to state. If you are going to trial, you have the right to an attorney, and you are going to need one. An experienced attorney knows the law and the nuances of the court system and will do a far better job of representing you than you could do for yourself. Having qualified legal counsel will ensure that your rights are protected. While the Arizona statutes prohibit the reduction of a DUI to a lesser offense, DUI attorneys can potentially negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf for a plea bargain or a reduced sentence depending on the severity of the case.
Should you find yourself facing DUI charges in the greater Phoenix metro area, contact the Criminal Defense team at GillespieShields. The attorneys and paralegals have years of experience and are ready to help you with your case. Contact us or call us at 602-870-9700 today to set up your consultation.
The information contained on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for legal advice concerning your individual situation. We welcome you to contact us via phone, electronic mail, or through this website. However, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send us confidential information until such time as an attorney-client relationship is established.