With Labor Day just a few days away, I thought it might be a good idea to discuss the increase in DUI charges seen by Washington, DC criminal defense lawyers following many holidays. With summer holidays, people often drive to see friends and family and enjoy a BBQ. Labor Day may be the last chance of the year. This usually means there will be a lot of drinking. If you plan on doing this, please drink responsibly or use a designated driver. The best way to avoid a Washington, DC drunk driving charge is not to drink and drive. Unfortunately, many will not follow this advice. If you are one of the unlucky ones, you may find yourself in an accident, jail, or both.
The DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), US Park Police, and US Capitol Police tend to crack down on drunk driving around holidays with increased presence, and DUI checkpoints. I have talked about field sobriety testing in great detail in previous posts, so I will focus more on what happens when you first get pulled over in Washington, DC. After the officers observe the vehicle in motion and decide to stop a driver, they will be observing everything that happens. According to most police reports, they will observe the strong odor of alcoholic beverages as soon as the window is lowered. They will observe glassy and bloodshot eyes, and maybe even slurred speech. They will ask the driver for his or her license and registration, but distract the driver after receiving the license in hopes that he or she will forget to hand over the registration. This is called a "divided attention test." They will ask the driver if he or she has been drinking, and the response will usually be "I only had a couple of drinks." At this point, they will make the driver exit the vehicle and give a number of field sobriety tests such as making the driver follow their pen/finger/flashlight with his or her eyes, walk in a line, and stand on one foot. Even if the driver thinks they did well, they will probably be arrested and charged with DUI.
The truth is, most police reports read the same way because the officers usually write the same things each time they make a report even though it may not be what actually happened. They will take out their computer template at the end of night, change some names and details, and submit the report. Your DUI attorney can explain this to you as it may apply to your actual situation, but it is often possible to challenge these details in court. This is a good reason for fighting a DUI in some cases because you can't "beat" the charge by pleading guilty. It is important to remember that an arrest is not a conviction.