How to Avoid a (Late) Holiday DUI
If you were responsible enough (or lucky enough) to escape the holiday season without getting a DUI, do not relax—you are not in the clear just yet. There are more holidays coming, including Valentine’s Day, when you may sip one too many glasses of champagne; and St. Patrick’s Day, the day drinkers around the world unite. All of these bring with them the temptation to have a few too many and get behind the wheel.
Of course, you should always try to avoid driving under the influence. The best way to do this is by abstaining from drinking any time you may have to drive. But there are other ways a driver can avoid getting a DUI as well. We will discuss them here.
How to Avoid a DUI After Drinking
If you are going to be driving but would like to have a drink at a social situation, such as during the Super Bowl, drink early in the evening—and wait before hitting the road. While it depends on the individual and type of alcohol consumed, the general rule of thumb is to wait one hour for every standard drink you consume. Eating will also help digest the alcohol and lower your BAC.
If you already drank and want to make sure you are sober enough to drive, you can test your own blood alcohol level. There are several online calculators, like HealthStatus and Intoximeters, but they are not accurate and cannot be used in your defense in a court of law, so be cautious. There are many charts online (like this one) that can help you determine your BAC, but again, these are just guidelines.
If you are still unsure whether you have had too much to drink, there are a number of apps that can help. DrinkTracker, Intoxicheck, and BreathalEyes are just a few of them. These apps work as a breathalyzer simulator, or make you complete a number of skill tests, tracking reaction times, memory, and judgment. If you cannot pass these app “tests,” it is better not to risk it on the road.
In addition to keeping track of how much you drink, it is also important to know the laws. A person may have too much to drink and then park in his car to sleep it off. But in California, a parked car DUI charge is possible, and can leave you facing criminal consequences. Stay indoors.
How to Avoid a DUI After Being Pulled Over
If an officer pulls you over, he may request that you take a field sobriety test. Are you legally obligated to perform these tests?
In California, drivers do not have to agree to take field sobriety tests, like the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, or the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. If you refuse, the officer can demand you go to the police station for a blood or urine test, and you cannot refuse to do that. (Refusal can result in a one-year license suspension.) We recommend politely but firmly refusing to perform field sobriety tests. Please note, you can legally refuse to take a breathalyzer.
Many of these tests are inaccurate, and while some may be easier to contest than others, it can be difficult if you have submitted to multiple types of testing before being arrested for DUI.
How to Avoid a DUI After Being Chemically Tested
If you test positive for drinking based on a chemical sample—blood or urine—it is more difficult to defeat a DUI conviction. But urine tests are widely considered the least accurate type of test; typically, they are only used if there are no other DUI tests available. Blood tests also are not always accurate. Like urine, blood is subjected to forensic labs, which have a human error factor. In addition, when the lab returns the results, they rarely attach the margin of error all tests are prone to have.
Breathalyzers performed in the field are actually the most accurate form of testing. Most of the time they are used, the results are the closest to what a person’s BAC actually is. But breathalyzer results are also possible to contest in court. A number of things can go wrong when a breathalyzer is administered. These devices are not always calibrated properly and return false positives, or produce higher results because alcohol was still being absorbed in the body.
DUIs certainly do not have to be a part of your holiday season. If you are arrested for DUI, the best advice we can give is to call an attorney before doing anything else. At JD Law, we have handled hundreds of DUIs in the San Diego area. For a free consultation with a DUI defense specialist, call (760) 630-2000 today.