The holidays are an excellent time to celebrate with loved ones, but be careful not to overindulge. While a drink or two with family can be a great way to unwind after a busy year, you should never drive under the influence. California law enforcement officials have already identified a spike in DUI arrests this holiday season, and it appears that they expect the trend to continue.
But why are holiday DUIs more common? That’s a good question. Here’s what you should know about holiday DUI charges, why they happen, how to avoid them, and how to defend yourself if you’ve already been charged with a DUI.
Why Do DUI Charges Increase Over the Holidays?
It is difficult to produce exact statistics regarding when driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is most common. However, people are generally more likely to drive drunk after parties and other celebrations where binge drinking is common. Binge drinking is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as drinking five or more drinks, which is heavily correlated with drunk driving.
This drinking type is more frequent during the holiday season as people get together and celebrate. People who rarely drink at other times of the year are more likely to binge drink and may not realize how intoxicated they are. As a result, they may drive intoxicated without realizing how much of a danger they are to other people.
This has led many law enforcement agencies to prepare for a spike in drunk driving around major holidays, especially Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve. These agencies have decades of experience managing the roads during these busy days, and they have concluded that people are more likely to drive drunk in the weeks around these holidays.
As a result, law enforcement officers are more vigilant for intoxicated drivers during the holiday season. If you drive while intoxicated at this time of year, there’s a significantly higher risk of being pulled over and charged with driving under the influence (DUI). You could even face DUI charges without intoxication if your test is administered incorrectly.
Avoiding Holiday DUI Charges
Regardless of how likely you are to be arrested for a DUI, you should never drive intoxicated. The best way to avoid DUIs is to always be sober when you’re behind the wheel. If you have any doubt about whether you are safe to drive, you should ask someone else to help you get home.
It can help to know how long alcohol remains in your system. It can take up to 25 hours for your body to completely process and remove the alcohol. If you feel fine but had a few drinks earlier in the day, you may still test above the legal limit on a breath or blood test.
In addition, it takes 60-90 minutes for a drink to reach peak levels in your bloodstream. That’s why you should never have “one for the road.” Even if you feel sober, that one additional drink before you begin driving could seriously affect your decision-making skills and reaction times, causing you to be a severe danger to others on the road.
Finally, you may be familiar with the 0.08 legal limit for alcohol intoxication. If you test above that limit, the police need no other evidence to charge you with a DUI. However, you can still be charged with intoxicated driving even if you test below that limit if the arresting officer has other grounds for considering your driving to be dangerous.
Defending Yourself Against Holiday DUI Charges
Suppose you have already been charged with a DUI or are concerned about being arrested this holiday season. In that case, you may benefit from understanding the most common DUI charge defenses. The best holiday DUI defenses include:
- Procedural errors: One of the most valuable defenses against criminal charges is that the police officer who arrested you didn’t follow appropriate procedures. For example, if the officer forced you to open your locked trunk without a warrant and used alcohol there as evidence that you were intoxicated, they violated your rights. They cannot use that evidence when prosecuting your unlawful DUI charges.
- Improper tests: The procedures surrounding intoxication tests are critical. California Code of Regulations Title 17 dictates a strict set of rules for adequately conducting blood or breath alcohol tests. This includes observing you for 15 minutes, administering the tests correctly and with proper training, maintaining the equipment properly, and storing samples correctly. If law enforcement officials don’t follow these protocols, the results of a breath or blood test may be inadmissible in court.
- Lack of probable cause: Another example of a procedural failure is pulling you over without probable cause. Law enforcement requires a reason to pull you over and test you for intoxication. This can be poor driving, violating traffic laws, or leaving a bar and driving away. However, if you are driving safely and the cop has no reason to pull you over, you may be able to argue that the results of their tests are inadmissible.
Consult Experienced DUI Lawyers in Redwood City, California
Don’t let a DUI charge ruin your holidays. If you’ve recently been arrested for driving while intoxicated, you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of M. Gabriela Guraiib, our expert DUI lawyer has the skills to defend you against your holiday DUI charge and help you move on with your life. We represent clients in Redwood City and the surrounding areas against DUIs and other criminal driving charges. Learn more about how we can advocate for you and protect your rights by scheduling your consultation today.