Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense, and, unfortunately, one that increases during the holiday season. Any time a special event happens, DWI arrests skyrocket. Maybe it's because more people find themselves having had one too many at a party and needing to get home to their kids, or maybe the increased consumption of alcohol just makes for poor decision making. No matter the reason, there are mistakes those accused of DWI often make that virtually guarantee their conviction. Click to read a few of them.
Drinking and Driving During the Holidays
The first mistake made by many people is to drink and drive and expect to make it home without an arrest. Many police precincts increase highway patrols this time of year precisely because alcohol consumption increases. With more people on the road traveling to be with their families, driving while intoxicated is also more dangerous this time of year. Don't ever put yourself in a compromised position, always have a backup plan for making it home in case you find yourself over the legal limit at the end of your get-together.
Submitting to a Field Sobriety Test
Field sobriety tests are designed to help officers determine whether your driving habits are due to intoxication. During a field sobriety test, the officer may look for the following signs of intoxication:
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty controlling fine motor functions, such as removing your license from your wallet
- Difficulty controlling large motor functions, like balancing on one foot
- Flushed face
- Red, watery eyes
- Eye twitches
All of these signs of intoxication can be misconstrued. For example, how does the officer know your eyes are not red and watery because of allergies? How does he or she know your flushed face isn't a result of your natural complexion? Ultimately, the field sobriety test will almost never work in the favor of the defendant, and will usually only provide more evidence of guilt. You have the option to politely refuse to submit to a field sobriety test, and it is likely that it is in your best interest to do so.
Refusing to Submit to Chemical Sobriety Tests
Unlike a field sobriety test, if you are asked to submit to a chemical sobriety test, refusing is not an option. These tests are required, and are likely the officer's next step after you refuse the field sobriety test. In many states, you have the option of choosing which chemical test to take, though.
- Breathalyzer tests can be administered in the field, which means you have the chance to prove your innocence right then and there. However, these tests can also be inaccurate if you have recently used mouth wash, or been around large amounts of paint.
- Urine tests are conducted in a local hospital. You will be asked to urinate into a urinalysis cup. Your urine will be tested for the metabolized form of ethyl alcohol. This test is more accurate than a breathalyzer test, but can be positive for a long time after you've consumed large amounts of alcohol, and is difficult to translate into blood alcohol levels.
- Blood tests, also performed at a hospital, are much more accurate than either of the other chemical alternatives, and offer the best evidence of your innocence. If you're faced with the choice of what test to take, submitting to a blood test is probably your best bet.
Hiring the Wrong Lawyer
Not just any old lawyer will do in a DWI case. There are complexities of biology, forensics, and law that make these cases difficult to prosecute and defend. Hiring an experienced DWI lawyer will result in your best outcome.
Driving while intoxicated is never a good idea. Doing any of the above makes it a terrible idea. Don't get caught up with a bad DWI case, protect yourself!