The Legal Limits of Holiday Spirits

With this past weekend’s annual Anthem Tree Lighting Ceremony at a close and the temperature continuing to drop towards the digits that make most of the country envy us Arizonians (at least during the most wonderful time of the year), it is safe to say that the holidays finally have come again to the Valley of the Sun. But along with the hallmark sounds of sleigh bells and carols comes a far less pleasant sound that is rapidly becoming a staple of the holiday season: police sirens.

As Arizona residents gear up for holiday festivities, police across the state are preparing for the sharp increase in DUI violations that come as a result of a little too much holiday cheer. Special DUI enforcement in Arizona typically begins with Thanksgiving weekend and carries through past New Year’s Day, and results in more DUI arrests than any other time of the year.

The number of DUIs issued last December accounted for 19% of the total DUI arrests for 2009. Goodwill towards men does not factor into these seasonal citations, nor does it have a bearing on Arizona sentencing guidelines, which continue to carry the harshest DUI penalties in the country. A person convicted of driving under the influence faces the penalty of jail time ranging from 15 to 120 consecutive days alongside thousands of dollars in fines, fees and court costs and a host of other penalties, including revocation of driver’s license and installation of an ignition interlock device.

So to keep your holidays merry, bright and DUI-free, remember the following:

*        Many assume New Years Eve results in the largest number of DUI citations, but statistics show that the majority of seasonal DUIs occur over Thanksgiving.

*       Though the legal limit remains .08 year round, being below the limit does not necessarily mean you’re in the clear to drive. Even if you’re below the limit, if an officer has reason to believe that you are impaired to the slightest degree they do have the discretion to arrest you.

*         If you are stopped for DUI, mind your manners! Should the incident go to trial, the court often relies on the testimony of the arresting officer. Believe it or not, your behavior counts and will have an impact on the process.

*        The number of police cars patrolling the holidays will be matched by the number of taxis. Transportation companies also anticipate the increase of party-goers in need of a safe ride home. Furthermore, in the spirit of the season, many companies are offering bonuses such as a free ride back to your car the next morning.

*        Though the results of a breathalyzer or blood test do carry heavy evidentiary weight, an unfavorable result does not alone guarantee guilt or innocence. DUI cases often times relies heavily on procedural details, and it is important to have your case reviewed by a competent attorney who is well-versed in the common pitfalls of litigation.

On behalf of our attorneys at The Carroll Law Firm PLC, we’d like to wish you a safe and happy holiday season. We look forward to meeting all of your legal needs in the New Year!

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