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The holiday DUI crackdown: What drivers should know

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

We’ll let the words of Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney speak for themselves here. “Holiday parties are in full swing,” he tweeted. “So are DUI emphasis patrols.”

Yes, we’re in that time of year where the state patrol and local law enforcement agencies around the state are cracking down on people suspected of driving under the influence (DUI). From now until Jan. 2, 2020, there will be extra patrols out on the roads, as well as increased scrutiny from law enforcement officers. What does this mean for regular citizens? Potentially, a higher chance of getting pulled over and accused of DUI – whether guilty or not.

Repurposed motorhome is being used for testing, processing

Any driver taken into custody during this emphasis patrol period may be surprised to find themselves taken to a motorhome. As part of the crackdown, the Washington State Patrol will have its Mobile Impaired Driving Unit out in certain areas. The 36-foot vehicle is described as a “police station on wheels” and has:

  • Two holding cells
  • Three breath testing devices
  • A phlebotomist to draw blood for warranted chemical tests
  • Computers and work stations for processing

Whether you’re taken to a traditional law enforcement office or this motorhome, one thing doesn’t change: Your rights.

Things to remember if you are pulled over

Just because officers stop a driver during this extra enforcement period does not mean they are guilty of DUI. A law enforcement officer might incorrectly suspect someone of driving drunk or high, which can cause quite the holiday disruption for the person behind the wheel.

If you are stopped and accused of DUI, there are a few things worth keeping in mind:

  • You can always invoke your right to remain silent
  • If an officer asks to search your vehicle, tell them you do not consent to the search. If they rifle through it anyway, make note of this and tell your attorney as soon as possible
  • The implied consent law does not require you to do field sobriety tests or take a preliminary roadside breath test
  • However, if you refuse a chemical test after an arrest, it will likely lead to an immediate penalty
  • Try to remember the facts of what happened, and write them down as soon as possible

While a traffic stop and arrest aren’t what anyone wants over the holidays, it does sometimes happen. Even if you do end up in this untimely situation, remember it’s not the end of anything. There are ways to try to challenge the accusations, reduce the charges and minimize the incident’s impact on your life.

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