Drunk Driving and the Holidays
The holiday season is typically associated with feelings of comfort and joy, but the holidays also have a darker side: the number of drunk drivers on the road increases exponentially during the period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, (NHTSA), 28% of all auto accident fatalities occur during the last month of the year.
In order to mitigate drunk driving, the NHTSA launched a high-visibility campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, which ran from December 14 to December 31, 2018. The campaign came with an increased number of law enforcement officials on the road, as well as more DUI checkpoints throughout Virginia.
If you are pulled over or stopped for a DUI during the holiday season, or if you have been charged for DUI, it is important that you know your rights. Make a call to our experienced criminal defense and DUI attorneys at the office of St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP your first move.
Your Rights at a Virginia DUI Checkpoint
Virginia law enforcement began cracking down on drunk driving early during the 2018 holiday season; during the 2018 Thanksgiving weekend, police removed a total of 102 drunk drivers from Virginia’s roadways, and issued a promise that there would be a heavy presence of DUI checkpoints throughout the entirety of the 2018 holiday season.
A DUI checkpoint, also called a sobriety checkpoint, refers to a police traffic stop that is random and that does not relate to any specific traffic violations or suspicions. During a sobriety checkpoint, a driver is stopped, briefly detained, and interviewed; if a police officer has probable cause to believe that a driver who is being interviewed is intoxicated, then the driver may be subject to a roadside sobriety test or breathalyzer test.
During a DUI checkpoint, you must stop your vehicle and provide the officer who is questioning you with your name, as well as your driver’s license, insurance, and registration information if requested. You do not have to comply with a request to perform a chemical blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test after a DUI arrest, although doing so may have consequences, including an automatic driver’s license suspension.
Avoiding Drunk Driving Charges During the Holiday Season
More DUI tickets are handed out during the holiday season because there are more drunk drivers on the road, and because police are on higher alert, adamant about pulling over suspicious drivers and setting up DUI checkpoints throughout the state. You can avoid a DUI charge by:
- Making a plan to get a ride home with a sober designated driver before you start drinking;
- Committing to calling a rideshare service or cab to get home;
- Using public transportation to get home; or
- Spending the night at the location that you are consuming alcohol and driving home in the morning.
If You’re Facing DUI Charges
The best way to mitigate DUI charges is to never get behind the wheel while intoxicated. However, if it’s too late for that and you’re facing an offense for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you need to understand the potential consequences that you are facing if convicted, as well as potential defense options and your legal rights.
A first-time DUI offense carries a mandatory minimum fine of $250 and a one-year driver’s license suspension. A second offense will carry a $500 fine, a three-year driver’s license revocation, and a possible jail term of up to one year.
In addition to these penalties, a DUI offense can also tarnish your reputation, have an effect on any civil suit in which you’re involved (such as a child custody case), and affect your ability to secure certain employment opportunities. A DUI conviction could also mean the loss of any professional licenses you hold.
Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Are Here to Help
During the holiday season, police officers throughout Virginia are looking for those who are intoxicated behind the wheel. If you are facing DUI charges after the holidays, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side who will help you to understand your options and build your defense. Our team at the office of St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP brings more than 110 years’ worth of combined experience to your case, and we have a strong track record of success with these types of cases. Call us today at 434-296-7138, stop by our Charlottesville office in person, or send us a message through our web contact form telling us more about your DUI charges and to schedule your case consultation.