Don’t Celebrate the Holidays Behind Bars

A funny thing happens to people around this time of year. Although normally they’re very careful not to drink and drive, or they at least keep track of how much they imbibe throughout an evening—at a holiday party, they throw caution to the wind and just “get in the holiday spirit.” What sometimes happens is they leave the party a lot more intoxicated than they think they are—which is fine if there’s someone much more sober to drive them home. If they decide to get behind the wheel themselves, that’s when trouble starts.

Everyone already knows about the dangers of driving while intoxicated, but here are two factors to consider as we celebrate the holidays:

  • There’s a lot more social drinking at this time of year, as opposed to the average amount of alcohol people typically consume, say, having a couple of beers over the course of a football game.
  • In response to this fact, law enforcement is much more alert to potential criminal behavior and far more likely to apprehend a person who makes the simple—but potentially fatal—mistake of drinking too much at the office holiday party.

If you haven’t encountered a police DUI checkpoint, here’s what happens. A street is blocked off by law enforcement, cars are obliged to slow down as they pass through and police officers conduct random stops to check on a driver’s possible intoxication. Often these checkpoints appear in areas where there’s a cluster of bars or a neighborhood well-known for college parties. These checkpoints can be established at any given time or place—and if you’ve had one too many and you get behind the wheel, there’s a good chance you’ll be apprehended.

What are the consequences of a DUI arrest and conviction? If you’re found guilty of an alcohol-related event, you can face many severe sanctions, including but not limited to court fines and fees totaling $1,000 or more (as well as legal fees and the costs of court-ordered programs), the possible suspension of your driver’s license (from four months to a couple of years), the impounding of your vehicle for up to 30 days and a possible jail sentence.

As you can see, the consequences far outweigh the temporary pleasures of “letting your hair down” at a holiday party.

Anyone who drinks, socially or otherwise, is susceptible to drinking to excess during the holidays. You can lose track of how much you’ve consumed, or maybe you drink too much on an empty stomach, or maybe you forget you’re taking cold medicine which, when mixed with alcohol, can easily put you over the top.

If you plan to celebrate at a friend’s holiday party, it’s best if you can show up with alternate plans (to you driving) to get yourself home. That way, you won’t end up celebrating behind bars.

Are you in need of legal counseling? The Law Offices of Ian S. Topf offer free consultation in a variety of issues, ranging from DUI/criminal defense, bankruptcy, family law and estate planning to traffic violations and landlord/tenant disputes.