Drinking and Driving During the Holidays

Drinking and Driving During the Holidays

holiday drunk driving

With the holiday season comes family gatherings, social time with friends, and even office parties. These are all joyous occasions, but they can have a dark side as well. The year-end holiday season is the deadliest part of the year in terms of drunk driving accidents and their catastrophic results.

Of the top ten deadliest drunk driving holidays in the U.S., four occur in last the six weeks of the year. These are Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas week, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the increased volume of cars on the road coupled with a greater number of alcohol-related accidents leads to twice as many DUI-related deaths during the holiday season.

Thanksgiving Season

The night before Thanksgiving is now called “Blackout Wednesday” because it has become one of the busiest drinking days of the year. Since most businesses are closed on Thanksgiving Day, it has become a tradition for bars to have specials on Wednesday night which are well attended by the hoards of college students who have come home for the holiday. Traffic deaths around this date have now reached over 400 in number annually.

December Holidays

Christmas day has its share of drunk driving accidents, although not as many as some might think. By and large, Christmas tends to be a time that families spend together, and there are often fewer people on the roads than usual.

Christmas Eve is another story. Traffic stops and DUI arrests often go up by as much as one-third on Christmas Eve. This is because people go out to holiday parties and tend to over-imbibe. These are often people who don’t drink on a regular basis so may not be aware of their limitations.

New Year’s Eve is another example of a holiday where drinking and driving is an issue. In fact, drunk driving arrests and alcohol-related accidents can increase as much as 40% on this night alone. Fortunately, when New Year’s Eve falls in the middle of the week, these numbers are lower than if it fell on a weekend.

Your Responsibility as a Driver

If you are planning to go out on the town or attend an event during the upcoming holiday season, you have a responsibility if you intend on having even one drink. Drinking and driving is so dangerous that you should not plan on getting behind the wheel of a car if you decide to drink.

  • Choose a designated driver and get their commitment not to drink.
  • Call a cab, ridesharing service, or use a program such as Sober Rides or Safe rides.
  • Make arrangements to stay overnight someplace within walking distance of your event.

Your Responsibility as a Host

Many of us enjoy hosting friends, family, and work colleagues for a holiday celebration. However, there is a certain responsibility present when you decide to serve alcohol to guests. You should make every effort to discourage guests from overconsuming as well as driving away from your party in an impaired state.

  • Serve a variety of filling foods, non-alcoholic beverages, and coffee.
  • If you notice a guest who appears intoxicated, ask them how they plan to get home. If they don’t have a sober driver, find one for them.
  • Print out a list of local taxi company phone numbers for your guests.
  • If all else fails, take away your guest’s car keys and call them a cab. Ask others to help if you need assistance.

The Consequences of Impaired Driving

One bad decision can create a sobering list of consequences. Not only is impaired driving a dangerous and potentially deadly choice, but the legal ramifications of a DUI can be extensive. In Virginia, you can be arrested and convicted of DUI if your BAC is over .08% or if there is other evidence showing that you were driving while impaired. Penalties for DUI in Virginia include license revocation, fines, and possible jail time.

The good news is that the Commonwealth must prove its case before you can be convicted of DUI. If you have been arrested for DUI in Central Virginia’s Roanoke, Lynchburg, or Bedford counties, contact Pack Law Group now at 540-586-7225 or online to discuss the details of your case with an experienced and qualified Virginia DUI 

DUI Arrests and Government Employees

DUI Arrests and Government Employees

dui in virginia

There are currently 65 million Americans with some form of criminal record, which works out to one in four working-age adults in this country. In 2016, there were 19,925 DUI convictions in Virginia, with an average blood alcohol content of 0.1452.

There’s a good chance that many of those convicted of DUI’s also had other consequences such as fines, jail time, crashed cars, and even lost jobs. But, what if you were simply arrested for a DUI in Virginia and not necessarily convicted? Can you lose your job? Depending on where you work, that’s a possibility.

Where You Work in Virginia Matters

Virginia is an at-will employment state, which means that a private employer can release an employee at any time, without giving them notice or a reason. There are a few exceptions. The first is if there is an employment contract, and the firing violates that contract. The second is if there is any discrimination involved in the firing based on age, sex, race, religion, handicap, or the filing of an OSHA safety complaint.

Those who work for a city or state agency may meet some additional requirements and regulations. Often, these employees are subject to an employment contract. Depending on your position and the terms of your contract, your job may be jeopardy from a DUI arrest.

Transportation Services

If you work in a city or state government position related to transportation services, there could be a clause in your contract that allows for firing in the event of a DUI or drug-related arrest. If you work as a bus driver, mass transit operator, or pilot, you probably need additional licensing to meet the requirements of your position. Just by getting arrested for a DUI, you have endangered that licensed and could lose your job.

A job that requires a commercial license such as a CDL or a pilot’s license is going to have more stringent requirements. In some jurisdictions, a person might have the option of entering a special program and installing an interlock device to maintain a license. Getting this benefit might require some action on the part of your experienced DUI attorney.

When Driving is a Job Function

Even employees who don’t drive as their primary job function could lose a government job if they are no longer able to fulfill all of their duties. If a manager is required to visit various locations in the city or state, but cannot satisfy this duty because of a suspended license, this could be grounds for firing. Individuals who have had a DUI arrest may also be considered too risky to have a company car or to be covered by group auto insurance.

A Position Held to a Higher Standard

Some of city and state positions are considered high-profile, and a DUI arrest would reflect poorly on the organization. One example is teachers. A teacher that is employed by the county or city is held to a higher ethical standard because part of their position is to be a role model for the students and within the community at large. An arrest alone could be grounds for employment dismissal from one of these positions or to non-renew a contract. Other examples are police officers, building inspectors, and fire chiefs.

A Potential Ray of Hope

While this information may make the situation for DUI offenders seem bleak, this isn’t necessarily the case. Whether you were arrested for a DUI or arrested and also convicted, there may hope for your employment situation.

Based on the sheer number of misdemeanor and felony offenders now in the workforce, there has been a recent push to prevent employers from firing and rejecting applicants because of their past mistakes. There are exceptions, such as the ones we listed above, but many states and municipalities have decided to “ban the box” asking whether or not an applicant has a prior conviction. More than 29 states and 150 cities and counties will now consider a job candidates qualifications before any questions about criminal history. Fortunately, Virginia was added to that list in April 2015.

Getting arrested for a DUI in Virginia can be confusing and stressful. Contact the Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225 or online to find out how our team of knowledgeable and experienced Virginia DUI defense attorneys can assist you.

Know Your Rights When You’re Pulled Over

Know Your Rights When You’re Pulled Over

my rights when getting pulled over

Enjoying a few drinks with friends and family at a party or bar is certainly not against the law. However, the same cannot be said for hopping in the car and getting behind the wheel after having one too many. Unfortunately, many Virginia residents take their chances after imbibing, and attempt to drive themselves home. Of course, this often leads to a traffic stop by police officers, and potentially even an arrest for driving under the influence. It’s important to note, however, that law enforcement cannot simply stop every car they see in hopes of finding an intoxicated driver, nor can they arrest any motorist based on nothing more than a hunch. Instead, police officers must respect the rights of drivers in Virginia when on the roads. In light of this, all Virginia motorists should be fully aware of these rights in order to protect themselves from trouble when driving. Furthermore, anyone who has been arrested on suspicion of DUI in Virginia should contact a skilled attorney who can examine the specifics of the case to determine whether the stop was made legally, and use other tactics to lessen or avoid criminal penalties altogether.

Right to Refuse a Breathalyzer Test In general, if a police officer believes a driver is in intoxicated while behind the wheel, the officer may request that the driver take a breath test. The breath test, or breathalyzer, is used to determine whether the blood alcohol content of a driver is above .08 percent, the legal limit in Virginia. Here, Virginia drivers should recognize that they do, in fact, have the right to refuse to take this breath test. That being said, pursuant to Virginia’s law of implied consent, all drivers consent to this test upon receiving a driver’s license; and, in turn, a refusal to take the test will result in a license suspension. In addition, while refusing a breath test for the first time is legal, refusing a breath test for a second offense or more will lead to a misdemeanor charge, as well. Overall, refusing a breath test can have certain negative effects on a driver, although it is a right retained by all motorists in the state. Anyone who has questions about refusing a test, or who is facing a DUI after refusing to participate, should contact an attorney immediately for professional assistance.

Was the Original Stop Legal? Once a DUI arrest has been made, the driver lose hope for the future, and become resigned to accept the penalties that come with a conviction. Not all is lost, however; indeed, a driver actually retains a number of rights before the stop was ever made, and if it comes to light that any of these were violated, the case may be thrown out altogether. For example, in order to pull over a driver, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being or has been committed. As such, if the officer cannot provide a legitimate cause for stopping the driver, as well as corroborating evidence, the stop may be deemed illegal. Additionally, an officer may only arrest a Virginia driver if the officer has probable cause that the driver is intoxicated. So, if a driver shows no signs of intoxication, including a BAC under the legal limit, the arrest may not be valid, either. Using these defenses in a DUI case can be difficult, however, and require a thorough understanding of Virginia criminal law. Because of this, anyone who has been arrested for DUI is advised to reach out to a trained lawyer immediately for help.

Have You Been Arrested? Let Us Assist You Today A DUI arrest in Virginia may be terrifying, but it will not inevitably lead to criminal penalties. Instead, with the help of a dedicated lawyer, someone facing DUI charges may be able to avoid criminal consequences by showing that either the stop or the arrest was in violation of their rights. If you have been charged with DUI in Virginia, don’t wait any longer. Reach out to our talented legal team at the Pack Law Group by calling 540-586-7225 for a consultation. We serve clients in Bedford, Lynchburg, and Roanoke Counties.