The annual DUI prevention enforcement campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is underway now through Labor Day – a weekend that officials note a spike in drunk driving arrests and fatalities.
Our Birmingham DUI defense lawyers know that anytime police agencies launch one of their initiatives, they are committed to aggressive enforcement that assures arrest numbers are high so that the overtime hours are justified. That means drivers who might otherwise catch a break or be given a warning will likely receive less leniency.
This year’s anti-DUI campaign is supported by the National Highway Transportation Safety Association, which is launching awareness initiatives between Aug. 16 through Sept. 2, Labor Day. While local news affiliates in Birmingham haven’t cited any specific involvement, we do know that officials in many cities and in every state in the country are on board with this action. That includes multiple initiatives involving sobriety checkpoints and “wolf pack” patrols, which are essentially just a saturation of officers in a given area identified as being a drunk driving hot spot.
The NHTSA reports that annually, an average of 167 people die during Labor Day weekend due to drunk driving crashes. Two-thirds of drivers involved in fatal crashes after midnight were intoxicated, the agency said, and in 2011, three-fourths of all DUI arrests during that weekend were male drivers.
The agency is currently airing a number of public service announcements to drive home these points and encourage drivers to either refrain from drinking or tap a designated sober driver if they are too drunk to get behind the wheel.
Police in Kansas, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio and Oklahoma have all reported a law enforcement commitment to the campaign. In Alabama, county commissioners in Mobile County approved the allocation of grant funds to participate in the enhanced enforcement action. We wouldn’t be surprised to see similar action in this part of the state.
Obviously, the best way to avoid getting ensnared is to avoid drinking before driving. Still, we fully recognize and respect a person’s right to imbibe in a drink or two before getting behind the wheel, so long as it’s done in moderation.
If you are stopped, don’t panic. You should be polite with the officers, but you don’t have to give them any information beyond your name, address and other identifying information. If they ask where you have been or where you are going, you don’t have to answer. If they ask whether you have been drinking, don’t lie. However, understand that you need not give them any answer at all, except to say that you decline to speak with them until you have had the chance to confer with your lawyer.
If it’s your first DUI offense and you are over the age of 21, you will be facing up to one year in jail, a fine between $600 and $2,100 and a 90-day license suspension. These are the worst-case scenarios, and we will fight aggressively to help you avoid them.