Its that time of year again. Eating turkey, dressing, apple pie, and mashed potatoes is a tradition for many of us. Unfortunately, its the time of year when many people celebrate excessively and decide to drink and drive leading to a holiday drunk driving arrest.
This year Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are working hard to organize drunk driving prevention initiatives. These groups will partner with states, traffic safety organizations and communities to raise awareness about holiday drunk driving.
Specifically, at the state level you can expect there to be an increased police presence on the roadways this Thanksgiving. These efforts will be duplicated in most states across the United States this year as police anticipate that bars and restaurants will be busy.
For example, last year in the state of Michigan the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning used federal traffic safety funds to increase patrols by over one hundred police agencies in 20 counties across the State including Ingham, Jackson, Calhoun, and Washtenaw counties.
Steps to eliminate holiday drunk driving
Police and other groups have made several suggestions for eliminating holiday drunk driving. First, plan ahead. Why not designate a driver who does not plan to drink? Using public transportation is also another option. Calling a cab and spending $20 is much better than the alternative: spending $10,000 defending yourself against a holiday drunk driving charge and having a drunk driving conviction permanently on your driving record.
Many drivers dont think about the costs beforehand, but even a first time DUI can cost you thousands in legal fees, court costs, fines, and license suspension fees. Not to mention your insurance costs can sky-rocket. Other costs may be less easy to quantify but can include embarrassment and lost job opportunities. And many courts impose jail time even for a first offense, with mandatory jail time for repeat offenders.
Deaths spike due to holiday drunk driving
Unfortunately, its not uncommon for drunk driving deaths to spike from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. In the last several years almost a thousand people were killed in alcohol-related accidents over the holiday season. Amazingly, according to a MADD survey, 73 percent of adults said they've seen someone trying to drive after drinking too much and 1 in 5 did nothing about it.
If you see someone trying to drive who is intoxicated or if you spot an intoxicated driver you have an obligation, if just a moral one, to report the incident or try to stop them from getting in their car.
What are my rights after a DUI arrest?
You may have more rights after a DUI stop then you had in previous years. The Supreme Court recently ruled that police can't force a drunken driving suspect to submit to a blood draw unless they have a warrant or can show an urgent need to act without one. But many states have implemented new procedures which make it easier than ever for police to easily get a warrant. Also, the states have severe implied consent laws which can make the penalty for a refusal to submit to a blood test or chemical test almost as severe as some DUI penalties.
Remember, its always better to not drink and drive.