“Drinking Holidays” Mean More DUI Checkpoints

pennsylvania-dui-lawyerMemorial Day is about remembrance of those who have given their lives in the service of their country. It is a classic 3-day weekend ritual of camping, bar-b-q, baseball games and drinking alcohol.

Don’t make it a day you wish you could forget.

Police departments everywhere will be on high alert this weekend, looking for drunk drivers. And it doesn’t take much to be legally impaired in Pennsylvania.

A .08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is the minimum, “Tier 1” standard for legally drunk– the equivalent of about 2-3 beers consumed within a 3 hour period. Not hard to do on a warm day at a ballgame or afternoon picnic.

There are many myths surrounding ‘sobering up’ quickly, like eating some food or waiting an hour and drinking some water before driving. These activities may make you feel better, but, you’re still legally drunk because they do nothing to remove the alcohol from your bloodstream. In fact, studies show even after a full night’s sleep, people who consumed larger amounts of alcohol wake up drunk.

That’s right, it’s actually not a ‘hangover’; that’s the alcohol still coursing through your bloodstream.

Many times a client in a DUI case will swear they felt fine, and I believe them. They may have even passed the field sobriety test, but the smell of alcohol can be detected by the police officer, and is still in the driver’s blood, and that’s all the law needs for a DUI conviction. The law considers your judgement to be impaired when drinking, so even though you judge yourself okay to drive, the law says otherwise.

There are certain procedures and steps a police officer must follow when administering a Sobriety Field Test, as well as time limits for getting a blood test (they must have a suspect tested within 2 hours of the stop). If you refuse a blood test, you will automatically face a one-year suspension of your driving privileges, and will still likely be charged with DUI, based on the officer’s testimony.

Remember that driving is a privilege, not a right. By accepting a Drivers License, you are also accepting the terms and conditions of holding that license. This includes the right of an officer to act in ways that might seem like a violation of your rights– searching the vehicle and your person if you’re the driver, for example– but are in fact perfectly legal because you are operating a motor vehicle. If an officer suspects a driver of being impaired, they are going to look for additional signs of impairment– open containers, evidence of drug use, etc.

It’s also important to remember that it is always the best policy to be cooperative with police, but to say as little as possible– anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Believe me, they mean that.

The best policy is of course to not drink and drive, but on a big holiday weekend in Pittsburgh, that can be easier said than done. You may think you’re okay, or it’s “just this one time, a short trip home, I’ll be fine.” It’s not and if you get caught, you’ll be facing some serious fines, loss of driving privileges, and even some jail time.

If it does happen to you, please call me. I have much experience in dealing with DUI cases and will put every bit of that experience to work for you. We’ll look at the process to ensure proper procedures were followed and look for every available avenue to reduce or eliminate– whenever possible– the damages of getting a DUI.

Wishing everyone a safe and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend.

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