Happy Holidays: Here’s Your DUI. From, Agitated Police Officer

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As an attorney, drunk driving is nothing I can condone. It's illegal, unwise, and puts yourself and others on the road in great danger. However, with the coming holiday season also comes more spiked eggnog and an influx of celebratory, holiday drinking. As a result, more people are getting behind the wheel and, subsequently, being pulled over by police.

It happens every year: DUI charges often increase during the holiday season. This increase in charges could be because more people are drinking, or it could be because police officers are being more vigilant, the most likely reason, however, is a combination of the two.

It's not uncommon for someone to forget to buy a specific Christmas present, remember it after a few sips of something special, drive quickly to the store to retrieve it, and in their rush get pulled over by a watchful police officer. It is just as likely that too much time with family leads you to lose track of your alcohol consumption and make a hasty exit when the opportunity presents itself. If you end up pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, here are a few things to be aware of.

  • Being detained on the side of the road is different from being under arrest. If you're detained under suspicion of drunk driving, then you should first remember your Miranda rights even though you may not be advised of them until it is too late. You are not legally required to answer any questions. Since the detaining officer is looking to get you to incriminate yourself, consider declining to answer any questions. Most importantly, remember to conduct yourself in a polite and courteous manner, and provide identification. Now is not the time to engage in a test a of constitutional knowledge.
  • Field sobriety tests,like the incriminating questions you're being asked, are also not mandatory. The 3 Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are only 77%, 68%, and 65% accurate, respectively. That is a C and two D’s on a college grading scale. Do not submit yourself to inaccurate tests, and politely refuse. You will likely be arrested when you refuse; however, you would certainly be arrested if you fail the tests.
  • Breath and Blood Alcohol Testing, most commonly the “breathalyzer,” is also not mandatory unless someone has been severely injured as the result of an impairment-related accident. You have a Constitutional right to refuse these tests, although your license may be suspended on the spot for an Implied Consent violation. However, the majority of people are eligible for a temporary license pending the outcome of an administrative hearing. This essentially “delays” the onset of the suspension, and may even avoid it altogether.
  • Contact me as soon as you are released from jail. I can assist you with the process of getting your license reinstated. The process is fairly simple, but it is also time sensitive. You must request an administrative hearing within 30 days of the initial date of arrest in order to be eligible for a temporary license. Your initial court appearance may also be set within a few weeks of your arrest, so it is important that you get legal counsel quickly.

If you have any further questions about DUIs or how you can protect yourself should you be stopped by police who suspect you have been drinking, please contact us and we'll be happy to discuss the issue with you.

Written by Rob Ianuario

Although I was not born into the legal profession, I chose to go to law school and became an attorney in 2008. With the encouragement of many established attorneys, I started my Greenville, SC law practice in 2010. I am the son of an engineer with strong ties to the automotive industry and collector cars. I have even worked as a BMW mechanic in Munich, Germany. Weather and court permitting, I am proud to drive a 1931 Model A Ford on a regular basis.
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