For many, Labor Day marks the end of summer and one last chance to enjoy the warm weather, plan cookouts with friends and family, or spend the day boating on the lake.
This time of year also sees an increase in drunk driving, which means local and state law enforcement will be increasing their presence along Tennessee highways and roads. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 424 car crash fatalities across the country during the 2013 Labor Day weekend. Out of those car accidents, 38 percent involved drivers who were considered drunk with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher.
If you’re planning Labor Day festivities that involve alcoholic beverages, think ahead:
- Know your limit and keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum.
- Drink plenty of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass water in between each alcoholic beverage.
- Before going out with friends, determine who will be the designated driver so everyone has a sober ride home.
- Save phone numbers for cab companies or install mobile apps for area car services before you leave you home. Typically, Labor Day weekend means an increase in people needing these transportation services, so you may need to try contacting more than one before finding a safe ride home.
As much as you plan ahead, however, the unexpected can happen. So, if you find yourself being pulled over for suspicion of DUI, be prepared to handle the situation and keep these suggestions in mind:
- Have your license, registration, and insurance information ready before the police officer approaches your vehicle.
- A police officer will ask you to complete a field sobriety test and to blow into a breathalyzer to determine your BAC. You are not obligated to take the field sobriety test and you have the right to refuse to blow into the breathalyzer, which prevents law enforcement from having evidence of your BAC.
- As a licensed driver, you have already given consent to cooperate with the police, so you will be charged with violation of the implied consent law for refusing to take a field sobriety test. Keep in mind, however, law enforcement can draw and test your blood without your consent if you have already been convicted of a previous DUI.
- You will be recorded on video throughout the traffic stop, and everything you say and do will be reviewed by the prosecutor, your lawyer, and the court (if you go to trial). That’s why it’s important to be respectful and courteous to the officer who pulls you over. Furthermore, if you appear to be visibly intoxicated in the video, your chances of having your DUI case dismissed are extremely low.
- If this is your second DUI, police will automatically seize your vehicle. The more DUI cases you have, the more serious the charges become.
From affecting job opportunities and finances to personal freedom and relationships, one DUI can affect the rest of your life. Don’t let your lack of knowledge about the Tennessee legal process intimidate you. An experienced attorney can help you avoid harsh DUI penalties by challenging whether or not the police officer had probable cause to pull you over as well as challenging your sobriety test results. Furthermore, a DUI lawyer will review the evidence against you to ensure the prosecutor actually has enough proof to convict and try to either have your case dismissed or plea to a lesser charge—such as public intoxication or reckless driving.
photo credit: Beer Bottle – DUI 2 via photopin (license)