Don’t let your family hear DUI Can’t Afford To Buy Presents This Year coming out of your mouth.  Staying out of trouble over the Holidays is a simple formula and it doesn’t have to make celebrating less fun.  It requires a little planning and a little care and you can avoid getting my annual holiday card.

Tis the season to be Arrested! (Fa-la-la-la-la) Many of you will have a friend, family member neighbor or colleague who is stopped by law enforcement over the next 45 days under suspicion of DUI. Most of those people will quite literally talk themselves into being arrested and convicted of driving under the influence.

I’m here to tell you how to avoid that arrest and conviction. Avoid the embarrassment and expense of spending the holidays in jail, losing your license and your budget for presents all at once.

While New Years is the night people warn each other about getting a DUI, the number of arrests over December 31-January 1 falls well short of Thanksgiving, and Christmas racks up a healthy number of arrests as well.

Of course the number one way to avoid a DUI arrest and subsequent conviction is, “don’t drink and drive.”, “know your limit.”, “Have a designated driver.”, etc. In the end, all the public service announcements in the world won’t help when you see that red light in your mirror, or find yourself stuck in line for a checkpoint.

So, what do you do? Here’s your handy guide to avoiding DUI arrest (or at least minimizing the risk of conviction for DUI).

1. Honor your constitutional right to not incriminate yourself – If a police officer were to ask you, “Did you kill your neighbor?” would you say yes? Why would you admit to drinking and driving? You have a right to remain silent – take it seriously! Do not answer any questions and make sure to ask for your lawyer, (feel free to use my name) if you are detained or arrested and being questioned. For example, admitting that you had a drink or two will give them probable cause to continue their investigation and may be enough to arrest you.

2. Be polite and compliant if you are asked to step out of the car, but do not submit to any Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs), or Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) – They will not tell you that these tests are OPTIONAL, but they are. Refuse them completely. They are gathering evidence to base an arrest. If you don’t help them, there’s a pretty good chance you will not be arrested.

3. The only test you should probably submit to is either a breath or blood test AFTER you have been arrested and usually at the station – this is known as “in conformity with implied consent” – which is what’s required under the law or you can be charged with a failure to submit to testing, a separate criminal offense, and automatically lose your license for an entire year without any restricted driving eligibility.

4. DO NOT consent to a search of your person, vehicle, residence, business or property. Without a warrant, or your permission, such searches are impermissible under the law and should they find something incriminating, the police will have a hard time using it against you.

The bottom line, is that you have these rights under the Constitution and you should not be afraid to tell law enforcement it is that document which affords these protections to you and that you invoking your rights does not make you appear guilty or some nonsense about putting you in a worse position.

Whether for a DUI or some other crime, the vast majority of our clients would never find themselves needing to hire us if they had not been so talkative and cooperative with police.

If you or someone you know is unfortunate enough to find themselves facing DUI charges this holiday season, we are offering free in person consultations as always.

Just today I had two DUI calls for cases that were already concluded with the help of the Public Defender.  In neither case did the attorney ask or explain how a DUI conviction might affect their jobs.  One was in public education and the other drove for a living.  Today, both have been terminated as a result of their DUI conviction.  Remember, the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.