With the extended Labor Day weekend quickly approaching signaling the unfortunate ending of summer, law enforcement will be stepping up patrols and traffic enforcement in an effort to increase DUI/OWI apprehensions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has began hitting the airwaves and television with their advertisements with the theme, "over the limit, under arrest" and "buzzed driving is drunk driving." In response to the increased crack down on suspected drunk drivers, the Attorneys at GRL Law feel it appropriate not only to encourage responsible behavior but also assist the general public in avoiding being stopped by law enforcement in the first place. If you do not give law enforcement a reason to pull you over then a DUI investigation never begins. As such, here are a few helpful tips from the attorneys at GRL Law.
Top Ten Ways to Avoid a DUI
1. Don’t Drink and Drive. While it’s not illegal to drink and drive, the only sure fire way to avoid an arrest for DUI is not to put yourself in a position where an officer suspects you of being intoxicated. The only way to do that is not to consume alcohol prior to driving.
2. Get off the Road by 11 p.m. The majority of DUI arrests occur after midnight and for the obvious reason that people tend to leave bars around that time, especially bar close at 2 a.m. Thus, it is the third watch (11p.m. – 7 a.m.) officers that are much more aggressive in their enforcement. When you would ordinarily not be pulled over for a license plate cover that covers the county during normal hours, after 11 p.m. the chances of that occurring drastically increase.
3. Don’t drive like a jack ass. Simply put, if you don’t give law enforcement a reason to pull you over, you don’t have to worry about a drunk driving arrest. If you have been out drinking for an evening and elect to drive home, make sure to pay attention to posted speed limits and traffic control signs and devices. You should also understand that a “concerned citizen” call can be sufficient to justify an officer in pulling you over. Thus, treat others on the road with respect when you’ve had a few and are driving home. If you don’t give them a reason to stop you, then you don’t have to worry about what to do following the stop (http://www.grllaw.com/CM/Custom/Your-Rights-OWI.asp)
4. Ensure your vehicle equipment is working properly. The smallest traffic violation or vehicle equipment/lighting violation gives law enforcement a legal basis to stop your vehicle. Ensuring that all lighting and equipment is in proper working order will obviously decrease your chances of being stopped in the first place.
5. Remove license plate frames or covers that obscure or obstruct the reading of ANY portion of your license plate. More and more, law enforcement is making a habit of stopping vehicles because the license plate frame covers or obscures a portion of the county printed on the license plate. While it is debatable whether or not this truly violates the statute, the best way to ensure you do not have to get into this fight is to remove any frames or covers that makes the license plate hard to read or obstructs any portion of any letters on the plate.
6. Don’t drive on a suspended or revoked licensed. In the State of Iowa, law enforcement may stop a vehicle if the registered owner is suspended, barred or otherwise revoked. Believe it or not, a police officers job is not always full of fun and excitement. They do get bored and will routinely run license plate numbers of vehicles in front of them or that they pass as they travel down the road. If the registered owner comes back as suspended or revoked, you just gave them something to do and it is downhill from there.
7. Don’t sleep in the driver’s seat of a vehicle that is running. If you are going to take a nap in your car, take it in the passenger’s seat or in the rear seat and make sure the vehicle is not running! A few extra steps can save you a few thousand dollars.
8. Stay off your cell phone. Studies have shown that individuals talking on cell phones are just as, if not more impaired, then individuals with an alcohol concentration of .08. Combine cell phone use and a few beers and you are asking for disaster. Text or call your after hours company once you safely arrive home. It can wait!
9. Don’t make stops on your way home. While a late-night burrito or taco supreme sounds incredible at 2 in the morning, you stopping drastically increases the odds of you spending the night courtesy of the county bed and breakfast. More people get called in for drunk driving by fast food restaurant drive-through workers and convenience store workers then you would think. Go straight home and keep some frozen chimichangas in the freezer for after hours, it all tastes the same at 2 a.m.
10. Don’t eat while driving. Just like your cell phone, eating food impairs your ability to safely operate your vehicle. The less distractions you have while driving the better off you will be. Again, wait until you safely arrive at home.