How To Avoid Getting Arrested For DUI On New Year’s Eve

Filed under: DUI Tags: by Steven F. Fairlie @ December 31, 2010

Don’t become a statistic this New Year’s Eve. There will be countless arrests tonight as revelers make their way home through a myriad of checkpoints and watchful patrol officers. Here’s how to avoid the arrest that no one can afford:
1. It seems silly to list this as the number one way to avoid a DUI, but don’t drink and drive. When you add up the legal fees, fines, costs, opportunity costs, license suspension, potential jail time, etc. no one can afford it. If you absolutely must drink then be sure to have a designated driver or hire one – it is much cheaper.
2. Avoid major arteries and areas notorious for accidents and DUI arrests. Most checkpoints will be in this type of area.
3. Drive safely and obey all the rules of the road. If you are worried that you could be close to Pennsylvania’s .08 limit for those over 21 years of age driving non-commercial vehicles, then don’t risk having to pass field sobriety tests to prove it. Police officers cannot pull you over for no reason at all. They need reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence or they need to observe break a traffic law. Drive safely and there is no reason for them to pull you over. If you find that you are forgetting to use your turn signal, swerving outside your lane, or not reacting quickly enough to sharp turns or changing lights, pull over and call for a ride. You cannot afford the DUI and it’s not worth risking harm to others.
4. Unfortunately, there is no universale rule of thumb and most of us won’t have access to reliable and accurate breathalyzers this evening. As a result, the best rule of thumb is that a 150 pound male normally will gain .02 BAC for every 12 ounce beer less than 3% alcohol (many microbrews are double that), small glass of wine, or one ounce shot of 80 proof liquor. That means he won’t reach the per se limit of .08 until he drinks four such drinks. Women and lighter people will get there with fewer drinks. There is also a statute that prohibits driving if you have been impaired by alchohol regardless of the BAC, so if your balance or judgment are affected you should not drive even if under .08. Monitor your consumption properly and you dramatically reduce the odds of getting arrested for DUI>
5. If an officer activates his emergency lights behind you pull over promptly as soon as it is safe to do so and be respectful. That can go a long way in the borderline cases.
6. Keep your vehicle paperwork handy in the glovebox. Officers are taught to make a note if you fumble with your paperwork and will use it in court to establish reasonable suspicion to support a request for chemical testing and also as evidence of impairment.
7. Do not answer police questions about how much you have had to drink or if you know why you were pulled over. The officer knows why he pulled you over so you could politely ask why you were pulled over. Any response about drinking will be used against you.
8. Do not submit to field sobriety tests on the roadside. They can be used against you and in some cases are the only evidence of intoxication. There are standardized tests approved and authenticated by the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority. Unfortunately, most officers do not strictly adhere to the protocol, and in my experience even motorists who are stone cold sober often fail field sobriety testing. If you do submit to the testing, understand that you will be tested not just on your balance and coordination, but also on your ability to follow instructions, so be careful to strictly adhere to all instructions given such as waiting to start the test until told to start and keeping the proper spacing between your steps.
9. If asked to submit to a chemical test (blood or breath) on an official machine or via blood draw it is almost always best to agree. If you are requested to submit to such a test the request should be accompanied by a form standardized in Pennsylvania that advises that you have no right to speak to an attorney first and that anything other than unqualified consent to take the test will result in a suspension of your driving license. This suspension is in addition to any other suspension you may get if convicted of the DUI or getting ARD, and generally can be one year, 18 months, or longer in duration. It is very rarely worth risking that penalty, though someone facing substantial jail time for multiple offenses may be more worried about potential jail time than suspensions.
10. It bears repeating. Don’t drink and drive. You can’t afford it!

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