Avoid a 4th of July DUI
The 4th of July celebrates the birth of America, but unfortunately, it comes with a downside. DUI incidents significantly increase during the 4th of July holiday, resulting in countless deaths and injuries. From 2015 to 2019, 1,339 drivers were killed in motor vehicle crashes over the 4th of July holiday period, 38% of which were drunk.
After missing out on the 4th of July fun in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are itching to get out and celebrate this year with family, friends, food, and fireworks. However, alcohol and drugs will surely be involved. As a result, law enforcement agencies will work tirelessly to detect and deter drunk drivers on the 4th of July by stepping up enforcement efforts. Police officers are well aware of what the 4th of July celebrations entail.
This could mean more arrests, charges, and convictions. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, call our law firm at (425) 307-5515 for powerhouse defense.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Washington State
DUI is a unique charge because it carries both administrative and criminal penalties upon conviction. Administrative penalties include license suspension, alcohol/drug assessment and treatment, additional driving points, and ignition interlock device installation. Losing your driving privileges will make it difficult for you to get to work, school, appointments, and errands, resulting in a variety of personal and professional consequences.
The criminal consequences are also life-changing. In Washington State, a DUI is a gross misdemeanor, which means any crime that is not classified as a misdemeanor or felony. Gross misdemeanors are generally punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or $1,000 fines. Depending on your circumstances, however, you may experience longer jail time and higher fines.
Steer Clear of a DUI Charge with These Tips
With these frightening punishments in mind, our attorneys feel it’s necessary to share some safety tips to consider as you arrange your 4th of July plans. We want you to have fun but be safe. As such, here are some tips to help you avoid a DUI charge:
- Plan ahead: Ask a friend or family member to be your designated driver, or “DD,” to ensure you have a safe ride home. Even if you don’t intend to drink initially, plans may change, therefore it’s in your best interests to designate a sober driver who you can rely on.
- Stay overnight or book a hotel: If you can’t secure a DD or your DD ends up drinking, consider spending the night at the host’s home or book a hotel or motel instead.
- Drive defensively: Let’s say you are completely sober while driving home. While you may be driving safely, you can’t trust that other drivers will, too. Intoxicated drivers are on the roads more than you may assume, particularly during the 4th of July, which is why we advise you to drive defensively. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Don’t drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol: Even if you only had one or two drinks, do not drive. Many people make the mistake of thinking they’re “sober enough” to drive because they only had a “little bit” to drink. The reality is, however, that consuming any amount of alcohol or drug is too much if you plan on driving afterward. The same advice holds for drugs. Putting any amount of any substance may increase your chances of getting a DUI charge, therefore, you should avoid doing drugs or drinking alcohol before driving altogether.
- Use rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft or cab services: People use rideshare services after drinking for a reason, and you should take advantage of these services if you don’t have a safe ride home. Some companies like AAA may offer free rides during the holidays depending on where you live.
- Do not mix alcohol with medications: While prescription drugs are perfectly fine to use if they were specifically prescribed to you and are taken as directed, consuming alcohol with prescription drugs in your system can be a recipe for disaster. Many prescriptions have warning labels that advise against drinking alcohol while using such drugs, and in the event that they don’t, you should not mix alcohol or drugs with your prescription medications, or any medications for that matter.
- Do not “sleep it off” in your car: Countless people believe that sleeping in their cars after a night of drinking is a safe choice. However, if a police officer pulls up, they could actually get a DUI charge. Why? If an officer determines through circumstantial evidence (i.e. warm engine, running car, keys in your lap, etc.) that you may have been driving under the influence, they may arrest you for DUI. As such, avoid sleeping or napping in your car to allow the alcohol to wear off, as your good intentions may have bad outcomes.
Key Drunk Driving Facts to Know
As part of its annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shares these eye-opening yet informative DUI facts that you should know:
- In 2019, 515 people died in motor vehicle crashes over the July 4th holiday period (6 p.m. July 3 – 5:59 a.m. July 8, 2019).
- 38% (198) of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
- During the 2019 July 4th holiday period, 69% of those who died in alcohol-impaired crashes were in a crash involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .15.
- Nighttime hours are especially dangerous: Over the 2019 July 4th holiday period, of the 198 people who died in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle traffic crashes, almost 4 out of 5 (79%) of them occurred in nighttime crashes (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.).
- Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with blood alcohol concentrations [BACs] at or above .08). In 2019, there were 10,142 people killed in drunk-driving crashes.
- Nationally, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, except in Utah, where the limit is .05 BAC.
- Although it’s illegal to drive when impaired by alcohol, in 2019, one person was killed every 52 minutes in a drunk driving crash on our nation’s roads.
- Men are more likely than women to be driving drunk when involved in fatal crashes. In 2019, 21% of males were drunk, compared to 14% of females.
- Of the traffic fatalities in 2019 among children 14 and younger, 19% (204) occurred in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
- Among the 10,142 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2019, 68% (6,872) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15 or higher.
- In 2019, motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment than any other type of motor vehicle driver (29% for motorcycle riders, compared to drivers of passenger cars (20%), light trucks (19%), and large trucks (2%).
- Nighttime is a particularly dangerous time to be on the roads: The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 was 3.3 times higher at night than during the day.
- On average, a DUI can set you back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, and more.
- The financial impact of impaired driving crashes is devastating. Based on 2010 numbers (the most recent year for which cost data is available), impaired-driving crashes cost the United States $44 billion annually.
- If you’re caught drinking and driving, you can face jail time. Imagine trying to explain that to your friends and family or your place of employment.
- Drinking and driving can cause you to lose your driver’s license and your vehicle. This could inhibit you from getting to work, resulting in lost wages and, potentially, job loss.
As you can see, the dangers of drunk driving are fatal, costly, and life-altering. The 4th of July holiday is known as one of the deadliest days on the road, and beyond that, DUI arrests and charges could very well increase. For these reasons, we urge you to get in touch with us online or at (425) 307-5515 if you are accused of DUI, call the Bellevue DUI Lawyers at Veitch Ault Defense and will fight for you!