Every holiday season, law enforcement in the East Bay are on the lookout for impaired drivers. This year is no different, even with the COVID-19 restrictions and fewer people traveling. The days around Christmas and New Year's still have higher rates of traffic accidents and impaired drivers. If you are making plans to have a few drinks this holiday, plan ahead to get home safely. If you do end up getting pulled over, know who to call to make sure the police and prosecutor don't take you for a ride.
Holiday DUI Enforcement in the East Bay
During a number of major holidays and events, police, sheriffs, and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) step up enforcement of DUI laws. During these holidays, more people are out drinking and many end up driving home. This includes Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.
Over the most recent maximum enforcement period for Thanksgiving, officers arrested 868 people for DUIs in California. During the 102-hour period, at least 50 people died in crashes across California, including many involved in drunk driving accidents.
Even though Thanksgiving was just a few weeks ago, we are already in the next Maximum Enforcement Period, running from now until New Year's Day. The national campaign is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Office of Traffic Safety. In California, it will involve local police departments, sheriff's offices, and the CHP.
Holiday DUI Checkpoints
Drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County may come across a DUI checkpoint over the next couple of weeks. Sobriety checkpoints in California are considered legal if they meet certain minimum standards. According to the NHTSA, checkpoints have a deterrent effect that keeps some impaired drivers off the road.
You do have rights before getting to a checkpoint and if you are stopped at a checkpoint. Check out What To Do If You Get Stopped to understand your rights and how the police may end up violating your rights. If you are arrested without probable cause or had your rights violated during a DUI arrest, don't take your fight to the police, wait for your day in court. Talk to your lawyer about how to fight DUI charges after an unlawful arrest.
Marijuana and Prescription Medication Can Still Impair Driving
Marijuana has been recreational in California for long enough for many people not to even think about it as an impairing drug. However, marijuana is still considered an intoxicating substance for the purpose of a DUI. Like prescription medication, even though it is legal for you to possess and consume, it may not be legal to drive after taking a pill or smoking pot. Even if you do not think the medication is making you a bad driver, you might still be arrested based on the police officer's observation of your driving.
For example, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as impaired driving. If you are tired, have not gotten a lot of sleep, or ate too much for dinner, you might start to feel drowsy. This can make your driving worse, with slower reaction times, drifting over the lanes, or erratic driving after falling asleep. If you happen to have taken a pill or consumed an edible, the officer may blame the bad driving on the drugs instead of being tired.
Start the New Year Off Right
2020 has been a tough year for most of us. There appears to be a light around the corner and you do not want to start 2021 off on the wrong foot. Accidents do happen and a one-time mistake should not define your future. If you were arrested for a DUI in the East Bay, you may have a stronger case than you know.
With over 37 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands how a DUI conviction can affect your future, possibly your job, and how to fight to keep a conviction off your record. If you are facing a DUI, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.