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It’s probably no surprise to anyone that drunk driving incidents spike during the holiday season. With holiday cheer spreading from office parties to family gatherings, your chances of having one too many and getting behind the wheel increase exponentially. Of course, law enforcement will commonly start anti-DUI campaigns warning people of the dangers of drunk driving weeks before the holidays hit. In addition, there are always more officers patrolling the streets than any other time of year. But DUIs during the holidays will most likely rise, no matter how strong their message is.
That’s why it’s always important to stay informed about DUI statistics, procedures, and laws before you hit the road this holiday season. Here are ten facts about DUIs during the holidays that everyone motorist should know.
1. People who don’t normally drink and tend to have a lower tolerance are more likely to risk it and get on the road after having one or two drinks. This contributes to the higher amounts of DUI charges across the country during the holidays. On the other side of that coin, there are more people that drink heavier than they normally do during the holidays as well. With the plethora of gatherings and holiday events, DUIs during the holidays are clearly more common.
2. There are more highway deaths around the holidays than any other time of the year. With more people traveling farther distances than usual to see friends or family, the highways are significantly more dangerous.
3. Studies on highway and road safety found that over the last 5 years, an average of 300 people died during the week between Christmas and New Years nationwide. Besides Labor Day weekend and Fourth of July, this is one of the most dangerous weeks to be on the road.
4. The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) stated that during Christmas and New Year’s, 40% of traffic-related deaths involve drunk drivers. This is a 12% increase over the rest of the month of December. More people lose their lives due to drunk driving in the month of December than any other month.
5. Law enforcement is more likely to have random traffic stops and checkpoints during the holidays. In Rhode Island and across the country, the highway patrol and local police will install tasks forces around big cities and small towns to try to prevent DUIs during the holidays.
6. There doesn’t need to be a checkpoint in order for you to be pulled over. Officers are more likely to pull you over if you’ve been seen speeding, driving under the speed limit, or swerving in-between lanes. With more officers patrolling all areas, any forms of reckless driving will most likely result in a police officer pulling you over.
7. If you’ve been pulled over, an officer will most likely ask you to take a chemical test, also known as field sobriety test or breathalyzer. In the state of Rhode Island, you are not legally required to take a chemical test or breathalyzer. You can refuse to take one of these sobriety tests, but you will still face a plethora of consequences and penalties. These penalties can include a minimum fine of $200-$500, losing your license for 6-12 months, and 10-60 hours of community service.
8. If you are pulled over and you agree to take a sobriety test, the officer will use one of their certified breath test detectors. If your blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08 or more, you will be charged with a DUI. Remember that you don’t have to have a drinking problem to get charged. DUIs during the holidays are more common even for those who normally don’t drink.
9. If you are charged with a DUI for the first time, you can face a variety of consequences. These can include penalties such as fines between $100-$400, up to one year in jail, 10-60 hours of community service, mandatory attendance at a special alcohol treatment program, and/or loss of a license for 3-12 months.
10. Remember that the courts hours of operation also slow down during the holidays, but are not completely closed. Be prepared for paperwork and registration of your arrest to take longer than normal if you are charged during this time of year.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI during the holiday season, it’s important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. With the increase of patrols, checkpoints, and task forces, there’s also a stronger chance of issues with faulty sobriety detection equipment or false arrests. Having a lawyer representing you in a DUI case can help you to understand your options and if all of the penalties are necessary. Call a DUI lawyer today for more information. Don’t handle your DUI alone!