Last year was a bad year for DUI crashes in Pennsylvania. According to state police, troopers responded to more than 5,100 DUI-related accidents in 2017, a 14 percent jump from the previous year.
That’s to say nothing to the number of DUI arrests – 19,963. And of those arrests, 243 took place over a three day period: between December 23 and December 25.
The holiday season, we’re sad to say, is often a dangerous time for drivers, and a busy time to be a PA DUI attorney.
A deadly time to drive
There are a lot of people on the road for the holidays, many of them coming from gatherings where they might have had too much to drink.
The busiest travel time of the year is the period between Thanksgiving weekend and the New Year, which also coincides with some of the busiest days for social drinking. The night before Thanksgiving, for example is often the busiest night of year for bars.
All that drinking and all that traveling make for a deadly mixture. According to figures from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 40 percent of holiday traffic fatalities involve drunk drivers.
And it’s not just dangerous for driving. New Year’s Day sees a significant spike each year in the number of fatal pedestrian accidents, many of which were alcohol-related.
Avoiding a holiday DUI
It’s a horrible thought: you were at your company’s pre-holiday party and you had too much to drink. Much of the evening is a blur.
You can remember the party, but not getting in the car. The next thing you know, an officer is reading you your rights, and you’re looking at spending Christmas Eve in jail.
And that’s the best case scenario. Ask any PA DUI attorney, and they’ll tell you the worst case is that your driving landed someone in the hospital…or ended someone’s life.
It didn’t have to be this way. There are steps you can take to avoid a holiday DUI arrest.
1. Don’t drink and drive
We make this point in every article we write about DUI arrests: the only way to avoid being charged with driving under the influence is to not drink and drive.
You’ll keep yourself safe from arrest, but more importantly, you’ll protect yourself and other drivers and pedestrians from harm.
2. Find another ride home
If you’ve been drinking, get someone else who’s sober to give you a ride home or come pick you up. If you can’t find a ride home, call a cab or get a ride from Uber or Lyft, or save money by taking a bus or train home if you live somewhere with reliable public transit.
3. Find a place to sleep
If you’re far from home, find a hotel or convince a friend to let you crash on their couch. Don’t attempt to drive home and “sleep it off” on the side of the road. You can still be charged with DUI.
What if I’m pulled over?
Let’s say you’ve ignored our suggestions and chose to get behind the wheel after drinking. If you get pulled over, there are still some things you can do to help your case:
- Agree to take a test – Whether it’s blood, breath or urine, refusing a test won’t help you avoid prosecution. As any PA DUI attorney can tell you, refusing a DUI test comes with its own punishments, including fines and probation.
- Make a record of what’s happening – Write down everything you can remember about the arrest, including where and when you were stopped, the reason the police stopped you and what sort of field sobriety tests you performed.
- Look for witnesses – Track down anyone you saw before, during or after the traffic stop. A PA DUI attorney can speak with them to see if they know anything that can help your case.
If you’ve been arrested for driving while under the influence, you need an experienced PA DUI attorney by your side in court.
The lawyers at Penglase and Benson have spent years helping clients charged with DUI and can work with you to ensure the best possible conclusion for your case.