The holidays can be a lot of fun, filled with visits with friends and family as well as work parties. It can also be pretty hectic, particularly if there are a spouse and kids who also have functions that you plan to attend. With a finite number of weekends between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, it can mean families are double and triple booked on a Saturday. This can also mean there will be drivers over the .08 blood alcohol level even if only a couple of alcoholic drinks are consumed during these busy days.
According to the Center for Disease Control, New Jersey residents are below the national average of those who drove after drinking too much – 1.9 percent nationally, 1.5 percent statewide. However, this still means that 22,201 drivers were pulled over in New Jersey and arrested on suspicion of DWI in 2015.
Drunk driving is a traffic violation instead of a criminal offense in New Jersey. Nevertheless, punishments and fines can still be substantial, leaving a black mark on your record for years.
Here are seven tips for helping yourself if you are pulled over on suspicion of DWI during the holidays or any time of year:
- Pull over properly. Use your turn signal to pull over when it is safe to do so. Turn off the engine.
- Remain in the car. Turn your dome light and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Do not act suspicious and therefore guilty.
- Listen to their instructions. You are not in control of this situation so simply do as you are told, which includes handing over your license and insurance card.
- Careful what you say. Do not volunteer any information that is not specifically asked for. Be respectful and make sure your passengers follow suit.
- Have you had anything to drink? Here’s the big moment. Do not say you had “a couple of drinks.” The best advice here is to say that you don’t recall or to say nothing at all.
- Implied consent. States have a law called called implied consent. This means that by getting behind the wheel as a licensed driver, you agree to BAC testing. If you refuse the Breathalyzer test, your license will likely be suspended, the penalties will still be severe and you will then be arrested and forced to take a test at the police station.
- Get a lawyer. An attorney with experience in DWI defense often will challenge the reason for the stop, the results of the Breathalyzer test and whether the officer followed proper procedure.
If you, a friend or a family member was pulled over on suspicion of DWI, an attorney may help reduce fines, penalties or even jail time. The key is to get them involved in this process as soon as possible, perhaps even before you are officially arrested.