DWIs and New Year’s Eve

DWIs and New Year’s EveMany people use the holidays as a reason to drink a little more often, or in greater quantities, than they normally would. One holiday where celebrations and drinking go hand-in-hand is New Year’s Eve. People gather around to celebrate the start of something new. Many employers and friends host parties until well past midnight to celebrate the New Year.

There’s nothing wrong with drinking, but drinking and driving is against the law. Drunk driving, especially during a major holiday like New Year’s Eve or New Year Day, is a leading cause of deaths and fatal accidents.

Why drinking and driving during the holiday are likely to result in a DWI arrest

Some of the many reasons New Year’s Day celebrants are likely to be arrested include:

  • The police are looking for drunk drivers. Law enforcement officers in Killeen and other Texas communities are well aware of the dangers of drinking on the holidays. That is why if you drink and drive to celebrate New Year’s Day, there is a very high chance that the police will be looking for you on major highways and rural roads. Local communities have more police officers on patrol on the holidays. The police will be looking to see if you speed, fail to yield, swerve in and out of traffic, or do anything that would give them a reason to pull you over – and test your breath for alcohol.
  • Different drinking levels. People who might have just one drink or two at a dinner or get together are more tempted to have more than a few during the holidays. Even people who never drink during the year will raise a glass to celebrate the new year. The problem with “novice” drinkers is that they may not plan ahead for a designated driver to take them home, or be aware of how the drinks will affect them.
  • More time on the road. According to org, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and July 4th are the three deadliest days for drunk driving accidents, but that makes sense: people drink all day long. But on New Year’s, all of the drinking and driving usually occurs once midnight has come and gone, meaning there is a great concentration of drunk drivers on the roads all at the same time.
  • The police may set up checkpoints. The police in Texas have the right to set up checkpoints to randomly stop drivers and test their sobriety – if the checkpoint conforms to specific requirements. If the police think a driver is drunk, they can request that the driver submit to a field sobriety test and a breath test. Generally, in order to set up a legal checkpoint that does not violate a driver’s freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures:
    • The government needs to have a prior announcement of the location, date, and time of the checkpoint so drivers are warned in advance.
    • The government should be able to justify the necessity of the checkpoint such as through statistical evidence of prior drunk driving accidents at the location.
    • The disruption to drivers going through the checkpoint should be minimal.

Drivers who are stopped by a police officer will be asked to submit to field sobriety tests that test their ability to focus and keep their balance. If a driver fails a field sobriety test, he/she will be asked to take a breathalyzer test. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is .08 or more, you will probably be arrested for a DWI. You can be arrested even if your BAC is under .08.

Suggestions for driving during the holidays

To reduce the risk of being arrested for a DWI, drivers should:

  • Consider having someone in their group be a designated driver.
  • Arrange for a taxi or rideshare service to drive you home.
  • Drive at or below the speed limit.
  • Don’t drink if you are planning on driving.
  • Sleep over at your family’s home, friend’s home, or a nearby hotel.

Defenses to a DWI arrest in Central Texas

A skilled Killeen defense lawyer asserts numerous defenses for anyone arrested for a DWI during the holidays – or any time. Common defenses include:

  • Challenging the validity of a checkpoint stop.
  • Contesting the basis of any stop.
  • Questioning the validity of the breathalyzer machine.
  • Examining the police to show the officer failed to administer any field sobriety or breath tests properly.
  • Showing that the police failed to explain the consequences for refusing a test.
  • Asserting that the police violated your Constitutional rights.
  • Other defenses depending on the facts of your case.

At Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, our DWI attorneys have more than 20 years of experience fighting for the accused. In DWI cases, we seek to suppress the evidence against you, obtain dismissals, obtain an acquittal, or negotiate a just plea bargain with your consent.

If you’ve been charged with a DWI for driving on New Year’s Eve or Day, or any other holiday, you could be sentenced to jail, lose your license, ordered to pay fines, and might be ordered to install an ignition interlock device. To talk with a respected DWI lawyer in Killeen or Copperas Cove, call us at 254-680-4655 or use our contact form to make an appointment. We proudly represent clients throughout Central Texas.