Drinking and driving under the influence is a serious crime, punishable by severe penalties, including fines and jail time. The sad truth is, however, is that a lot of people still engage in this risky behavior, even though they, very well, know the consequences they might face if they get caught. Even worse, if they luck out and do not get caught during their first drunk drive, they are more likely to mix drinking and driving again and again, until they finally face the consequences. And while the legal BAC for driving is .08, those drivers involved in fatal accidents exceed it, on average, by another .08.
When pulled over, it is important to keep cool, which may not be as easy as it sounds under the given circumstances and the influence of alcohol. The first thing not to do after an officer pulls an offender over, is deny any wrongdoing and pretend to be dumb and aloof. Chances are, unless a headlight was out or the car was overheated and smoking, there must have been an additional visible problem that prompted an officer to pay special attention to that particular car – in many instances, it’s not the car itself, it is the way a driver was driving it. Whether swerving to the side of the road, switching lanes every two seconds or exhibiting any other irrational driving behavior, a cop can pull a person over for careless driving and then quickly determine whether a driver has been drinking or not.
It is imperative to stay calm in a stressful situation of an upcoming arrest. Pleading and begging does not do much in terms of convincing an officer to let a driver go home; threatening does even less and can result in increased fines and additional charges. Both the cop and the driver know, at the time of the encounter, what the charges might be and the best way to soften an officer’s heart is to be cooperative, understanding and apologetic. Retelling sob stories may sometimes work for pretty girls, but for most people these stories will fall upon deaf ears. Most law enforcement workers hear those stories every day and they are not willing to break the rules just because someone is having a particularly bad day.
Overt honesty about the amount of drinks that have been had prior to driving can be used as incriminating evidence should the case be taken to court. It is not the duty of a driver to have a heart-to-heart with an officer and reveal the exact amount of drinks he or she had consumed. Pleading the fifth amendment, which allows a person to refrain from making any incriminating statements about oneself, is the right that a driver is reserved even when he or she is, clearly, in the wrongdoing. This action will not lessen the penalty for drinking and driving, nor will it get a driver out of a court appearance, but it will help the driver, once he or she goes to court and has the advantage of deliberating the next step with a lawyer.
It is important to remember other rights that a driver has, when pulled over for a DUI. For example, a driver has a choice of sobriety tests which can be deemed necessary to administer. Some sobriety tests can be refused, upon a driver’s discretion – the famous walking-the-straight-line test, for example, can be declined, if a driver views such a test as incriminatory towards him or her. A chemical test, however, cannot be refused. A decision to not take a chemical BAC test can often result in higher penalties under the court of law, as well as a very possible on-the-spot license revocation.
The rights for drunk drivers are severely restricted, as it is understood that a criminal cannot enjoy a full set of rights any other citizen can. A right to remain silent, a right to plead the fifth and the right to request a lawyer are some of the rights that remain active, even if a driver is severely inebriated, though, in most cases, this driver will not remember to request those rights for obvious reasons. A drunk driver is, above everything, a person who breaks the law and jeopardizes the lives of others by driving in an illegal condition and that fact alone is grounds for immediate punishment.
The best way to avoid drinking and driving is making sure that a designated driver is the one who has the car keys the night of the debauchery. Getting a cab to transport a drunk person home is another way of preventing him or her from getting behind the wheel of a car. Above all, the best way to avoid getting arrested and facing criminal charges is to take precautions before, not after, being pulled over. After all, just one irresponsible night can ruin a promising and lustrous future and put an otherwise good person behind the bars and into debt.