It’s Easter Sunday, which is a time of religious celebration and hunts for chocolate-coated Easter eggs. But all the jubilee means there’s a lot of drinking and a lot of driving to get to family and friends. This year, the holiday coincides with April Fools’ Day, which adds a little bit of potentially risky mischief. If you’re going to drive today, you should be more aware of your alcohol consumption.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more car accidents caused by drivers driving under the influence (DUI) during the holidays, like Easter. Why? Research from the NHTSA finds that people don’t intentionally drink and then drive – DUIs happen due to circumstances brought about by a series of light-hearted decisions.
For example, your friends come over so you can all drive over to the party together, but you decide to have a few drinks before leaving. Remember that having about four 12-ounce beers or three glasses of wine within an hour puts you over the legal blood alcohol content limit (BAC), in which case you’ll have to wait about half an hour for the alcohol to clear your system. Even if your BAC wasn’t over the limit, when you continue drinking at the party, it will most likely be over the limit because of the existing alcohol and all the social pressure to drink at the party. (Also remember that doing more than three shots of hard alcohol within an hour puts your BAC above the limit.) The researchers found that the major reason why people DUI is because of these social expectations where the party’s hosts and participants expect everyone to overconsume alcohol.
Then, when it comes time to leave or if everyone’s suddenly excited to head over to another happening spot or hype location, surely everyone would rather risk driving drunk than be left out of the party. But, these researchers also found that planning a designated driver or third party transportation beforehand greatly reduces the DUI dangers of this particular situation.
Of course, Easter parties aren’t really heavy drinking and clubbing get-togethers. The above scenario probably isn’t as likely to apply. But the NHTSA’s insights still do – social decisions and circumstances are likely to account for any increased DUIs for the Easter weekend. People are trying to relax, and you most likely will have a beer or two before leaving for your family get-together – and, at the same time, everyone else is leaving their homes too to meet up with family and friends. Some of these people will have had about three or more beers, which means driving will generally be a tad more risky.
When you’re with your family and friends, you’ll share glasses of wine over dinner and have a few beers while you supervise Easter egg hunts to help make them more fun for you! If you think this is far-fetched, did you know that the NHTSA’s research also found that white collar professionals statistically drink more? But if you realize you’ve drunk a little too much, not driving home isn’t an option in your mind. The kids have school, and you have work – the day after Easter Sunday is Monday, after all – spending the night to stave off the alcohol wouldn’t be great for work or for your children’s education.
What Important Decisions Should You Consider If You’re Pulled Over and You Know You Have Alcohol in Your System
You may opt just to drive home with your family – you’re not even drunk, and why would you let your kids miss school and the adults miss work? It seems like a decision that most would make without really hesitating because the consequences of driving with a little alcohol in your system seem to greatly outweigh the consequences of losing a day of school and work for everyone’s permanent school and employment record.
But, did you know that law enforcement patrol the roads a lot more vigilantly during Easter and other holidays because they’re aware of the increased frequency of DUIs? There may even be more DUI checkpoints.
Fortunately, you may not get into a car accident, but you might end up caught at one of these checkpoints or pulled over by a police officer. There are important things you need to consider in a flash that depend on how much alcohol you know you’ve had.
If you’ve had only four or so beers in the last hour or so, you could be at the cusp of the BAC limit. There’s probably alcohol in your breath and other signs that you’ve been drinking that would lead the officer to ask you to take a breathalyzer and field sobriety tests. Remember, your BAC goes down significantly for every 20 minutes you’re sober, so delaying these DUI tests for as long as possible is one of the best decisions in this situation.
Your state may not impose mandatory breathalyzer and field sobriety tests, which means you don’t have to do them even if a law enforcement officer asks you to. But refusing these tests can have automatic consequences, like suspending your driver’s license. That’s why you’re not really going to refuse to do them, you’re just trying to buy your body some time to clear the illegal alcohol. You can ask the officer to clarify whether these DUI tests he’s asking you to do are mandatory, which forces him to disclose your rights concerning DUI testing. That should shave off a couple of minutes.
If he tells you they’re not mandatory, then ask him what happens if you don’t submit to them. He’ll try to scare you with the consequences of not doing the DUI tests, which shaves off more minutes. He’ll obviously say things that are a little exaggerated, which gives you the opportunity to calmly ask more clarifying questions. If he gets annoyed and pushes the breathalyzer and field sobriety tests, be calm and state that you’re simply trying to get additional clarification before submitting to DUI testing that you’re not sure is fair or unfair because you don’t know all the facts.
Finally, if you’ve exhausted all of your questions, then tell him you’ll only submit to the DUI testing if he gets a warrant. Many states have an electronic warrant system where a police officer can get a warrant issued by a judge electronically, which means you’ll get an extra 15 to 30 minutes before you’ll finally have to do the breathalyzer and field sobriety tests. After all the stalling, this should give your body ample time to clear up your BAC.
You might even get luckier if the police officer can’t get an electronic warrant. In this case, he’ll most likely have to wait a lot longer to get the warrant, which gives you even more time to get legally sober.
But If You Know You’re Way Over the Legal BAC Limit, Then You Probably Shouldn’t Agree to the DUI Testing
It all really depends on the state where you’re being pulled over. Many states don’t impose any permanent negatives on your driving record for refusing to submit to DUI testing. That means you’ll still have to do the statutory jail time and have your license suspended, but your driving record will stay clean. Once you’re arrested, you can have your DUI lawyer defend you from any forced DUI testing attempts and advise you on how to avoid a DUI.
But, if you submit to DUI testing at any point during your interaction with law enforcement without your DUI lawyer, you’re giving the prosecutor and the police more hard proof that you’re indeed DUI. This gives them enough evidence to charge you with DUI, and that does go on your record. If you lose the DUI case, you’ll not only go to jail, have your driver’s license suspended, but you’ll now have a DUI conviction on your criminal and driving record. A DUI conviction is serious – it limits your employment, academic, and auto insurance opportunities. (And maybe even more!)
Keep in mind that it all depends on your circumstances and the unique situation you’re faced with! Always consult with a DUI attorney before taking any kind of action to ensure you’re doing what’s legally best for you. But your topmost priority is to stay safe and sober during Easter to avoid a car accident and any potential DUI charges.