Fourth of July festivities are filled with BBQs, fireworks, family, and friends.  As a prime summer holiday, July 4th is one of the biggest drinking days of the year, with alcohol a common part of the festivities.  As everyone is out celebrating this weekend, we encourage you to drink responsibly and choose a designated driver.  A fun and festive night can quickly turn tragic.

Across the nation, there will be increased DUI checkpoints and patrols over Fourth of July weekend.  Law enforcement will be looking to crack down on impaired drivers, with the knowledge that Independence Day is one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to drunk-driving crashes.  According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTSA), from 2009-2013, 39% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities occurred during the July 4th holiday weekend and involved drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher.

A heavy drinking holiday coupled with increased patrols and DUI checkpoints puts drivers who have been drinking at high risk of DUI charges. We urge you to remember that a DUI will not only disrupt your party plans, it can have serious consequences on your future. You could be looking at drivers license suspension, large fines, jail time, and the long term impacts of a criminal record. Please see our prior blog post for more information about fines and penalties for DUI convictions in Washington State.

Dellino Law Group encourages you to use our party planning tips to stay safe during Fourth of July festivities:

  • Plan to drive sober or designate someone else to. If you are the designated driver, don’t drink. Enjoy non-alcoholic beverages
  • Save the number of a taxi or rideshare company in your phone so you always have a backup plan.
  • Consider using smartphone apps such as Sidecar or Uber.
  • If you are impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use a rideshare company, or use public transportation to get home safely. If you know others who are about to drive while impaired, help them make other arrangements to get home safely

It is also essential to be prepared. If you do find yourself in a situation where you are driving under the influence and being pulled over, you should know how to handle it.

*Use these tips for what to do if you are pulled over for a DUI in Washington State:

  • As soon as you see a police car trying to pull you over, pull over to the right as safely as possible. Turn off your radio, put your car in park, and have your license, registration, and insurance ready when the officer approaches.
  • Be polite to the officer
  • Don’t admit to drinking or using any substances. Do not answer questions about where you came from or anything else. If the officer asks, stay silent or tell him you would prefer to speak to an attorney before answering questions. Admission can be used against you later in court, but your silence or request for counsel cannot.
  • Don’t complete field tests. Drivers have no obligation to submit to any field sobriety tests or answer any questions by the officer. Until you are officially detained and charged with a DUI, you have the right to refrain from all of this. The officer is looking for evidence against you and it is never a good idea to give it to them. See our web link for more detailed information about declining field sobriety tests.
  • Don’t answer any questions without speaking to legal counsel first. Again, they are looking for evidence against you.
  • Do I take the official breath test at the station? Under Washington State’s Implied Consent Law, you have already consented to breath or blood test. Ask to speak with an attorney before you take the test. The consequences of refusing the tests are often harsher than the consequences of taking them.
  • Ask to contact an attorney as soon as possible.These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.
  • If you are under 21 and arrested for a DUI, there are other factors to be aware of. See our web link for additional information about Minor DUI in the State of Washington.