The holidays are here again – they kick off around these parts with Thanksgiving and go right on through New Year’s. There’s really nothing quite like gathering with friends and family to celebrate the season, and it means even more right now as we come out of two years of staying in and staying home. Of course, that also means more people out and driving on the roads; people who may have been drinking.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports drunk driving spikes during the holiday season. Per the organization, “During the New Year’s and Christmas periods in 2018, there were 285 drunk-driving-related fatalities. These deaths were 100% preventable…The tragedy of these deaths is felt year-round, but for many, most strongly during the holidays.”
We’re not here to tell you that drinking and driving is illegal, or that it’s overall a pretty bad idea. You know that already – or you should. But if there’s ever a time to really avoid getting behind the wheel after having a drink or two, it’s during the holidays. There are lots more people out there who might get hurt, and there are lots more police out there, too.
How to avoid a holiday DUI in Annapolis
As an experienced DUI defense attorney, my priority is that you and others are safe. So, if you plan to celebrate the season with alcohol or anything else that might interfere with your ability to drive, check out the following tips and advice.
- Stay sober. This is obvious but I’ll say it anyway – you can’t get arrested for DUI if you weren’t drinking. And if you do, you have a heck of a case on your hands. I can help with that.
- Use a designated driver. Choose a reliable friend in your group to drive everyone home. Ensure that person has everyone’s phone number, address, and other important information.
- Plan ahead. Stay overnight or book a hotel room, as circumstances warrant for the event. If your designated driver ends up drinking, don’t be afraid to ask to stay the night or check in somewhere.
- Call a Lyft or Uber. Rideshare apps are a convenient and easy way to get around when you don’t want to drive. Make sure, though, you download and set up the app before you leave the house.
- Don’t mix alcohol and medications. Even having just one drink could leave you intoxicated without you realizing it. This includes over-the-counter medications, like common cold and flu treatments.
- Don’t “sleep it off” in your car. Trying to sleep until you’re sober can land you a DUI charge without even driving, as authorities can see your physical presence in the vehicle as an attempt to drive. Get a ride home.
- Host your own party. Hey, you don’t have to drive if you don’t have to leave. Feel free to enjoy yourself! However, don’t forget to be a responsible host and if guests are driving, ensure they’re not overserved. Consider arranging for rideshares home for any intoxicated friends.
The same tips go for drugs and prescription medications. Per the NHTSA: “Like drunk driving, drug-impaired driving is illegal in all 50 states. In 2017, 45% of the drivers killed in fatal crashes who were tested for drugs, tested positive. Whether the drug is obtained legally or illegally, drug-impaired driving can be deadly for drivers, passengers, and others on the road.”
If you’re pulled over for DUI during the holidays
In the event you do get pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving on the way home from making merry this holiday season, don’t panic. Take the following steps into consideration, and then give me a call:
- First, remember that being pulled over doesn’t mean you’re being arrested. Being polite, calm, and cooperative goes a long way.
- The officer may ask you to take a field sobriety test (FST). You have the right to decline this test, because they’re not that accurate, and we often advise our clients to exercise that right.
- And while we’re on that subject, they may also ask you to take a breath test. We don’t think those are accurate either, and you also have the right to decline that test.
If you’re arrested, you should take the following steps:
- Ensure you read all the paperwork provided to you by the police, as it notes a lot of important deadlines and instructions. If you miss any of these, you could immediately lose your license, even if you’re innocent of all charges.
- Request a hearing with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) within 10 days of your arrest to ensure your driver’s license isn’t suspended. The MVA won’t schedule this for you, so if you don’t submit the necessary paperwork and fees, your license will automatically be suspended.
- Consult with a skilled and experienced Annapolis attorney. A DUI is a serious criminal offense, and you’ll need serious criminal defense. I can help walk you through the rest of the process, protecting your legal rights and fighting on your behalf.
How your Annapolis DUI defense lawyer can help
If you’re arrested and charged with DUI or DWI in Maryland, your attorney can:
- Question the accuracy and the validity of the breath machine used to determine your BAC. These machines are often calibrated or the procedures are performed incorrectly.
- Help defend you from repeat offender consequences and ignition interlock device violations.
- Work to keep your driver’s license, by demonstrating you need it for work or school.
- Negotiate with the prosecution to reduce the charges and penalties against you.
Call my offices as soon as possible upon your arrest. The faster you call, the faster I can start working on your case, and we can all get back to our festivities, safely and happily.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Maryland, I’m here to help, even during the holidays. Contact my office, Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, in Annapolis or Ellicott City by completing this form.
And remember – Keep Calm, and Call Drew.