5 Ways to Avoid a DUI Arrest
We all know the best way to avoid a DUI arrest is simply to not drink and drive. We also know that we live in a social age, where after-work drinks are commonplace and sometimes even necessary in order to bond with colleagues, upper-management and clients. While we certainly do not condone drinking and driving, we can offer some practical advice to avoiding a DUI/DWI arrest should you find yourself in this situation.
1. Stick to Lite Beer or Lager
Lite beer, as in Miller Lite, Bud Lite, and Coors Lite - not beer that is light in color - typically has a 4.2% alcohol content in the United States. The regular lager versions of these brands contain 5% alcohol content. Drinking a lower alcohol content beverage means that it will be metabolized in your blood at a slower rate than a beverage that has a 30% alcohol concentration or above, such as a hard liquor. The alcohol elimination rate for most adults is .015ml per hour. So if you stick to one bottle of lite or regular beer an hour, you are effectively eliminating the alcohol from your system at a slightly slower rate than you are drinking it.
The other benefit of drinking beer is that it comes in measured amounts, e.g. a 500ml bottle, or a pint. This makes it easier for you to keep track of how many units of alcohol you are drinking. One bottle of beer is one unit, one pint of beer is two. So drinking more than two bottles or one pint of beer per hour could get you in trouble if you drive right after. The best thing to do is to stop drinking and wait an hour if you are unsure.
It is a lot harder to keep track of mixed drinks and wine because they are generally “free-poured” by the bartender into widely varying glass sizes. One large glass of red wine for example, or a super-sized margarita, could actually be worth 3 or more units of alcohol. You may think you have only had one drink, when in fact you have had the equivalent of 4 or 5 light beers in just an hour which puts you well over the legal limit.
For those of you who don’t like the taste of beer, try a low alcohol content apple or pear cider, a white wine spritzer (white wine mixed with club soda), or a mimosa (sparkling wine mixed with orange juice). The mixers will dilute the amount of alcohol you are drinking significantly, and will also keep you better hydrated which could help to eliminate alcohol in your system more quickly, although this has yet to be proven scientifically.
2. Don’t let your server control how much you drink
We all know that alcohol lowers inhibition and can impair judgment. We also know that bartenders and waiters are paid to move as much product as possible, and so will constantly be asking if you want another drink when you have barely finished the one you are on. Sometimes they won’t even ask, but will continue to top up your glass especially if the table has ordered a bottle of wine to share. Indeed, this is considered “good service” by most.
Don’t fall into the trap of letting your server control how much you drink. They will not be the one going to jail when you get pulled over and arrested for a DUI, so a firm but polite “No thank you, I’m good for the night”, or a hand over your wine glass indicating that you have reached your limit, should be enough to communicate to them that you are done drinking.
Settling up your tab or switching to water or a soft-drink is also a good way to communicate this.
3. Buy a portable breathalyzer
You can buy the same breathalyzers that police use to do roadside breath-tests from sites like Amazon.com. Well-reviewed devices start as low as $30 and go up to around $300. Anything that costs less than $30 and resides on a key-chain is not worth buying, and could do you more harm than good due to their inaccuracy.
You can expect the more expensive breathalyzers to be more accurate as they take deep air lung samples, not simply air from your mouth. The deep air lung samples are what the law recognizes as giving an accurate indication of the level of alcohol in your bloodstream, as opposed to just shallow air which could contain a lot of mouth alcohol, if you have just rinsed with an alcohol-based mouthwash for example.
These devices can be particularly useful if you have had a heavy night of drinking the night before, but want to know if you are good to drive the next morning after you’ve slept to go to work, as it’s quite possible you lost track of how many drinks you had and over what time period.
However, you should remember that these tests are never 100% accurate because they use a ration called the “partition ratio” to factor the alcohol content in your breath into a blood alcohol content level. As this ratio is just an average, and everyone’s body works differently, the breath test reading could be as much as 30% under or over your actual BAC. The only way to get an accurate BAC level is to do a blood test, which in most states the officer can order you to do after being arrested on suspicion of DUI. Also remember that portable breathalyzers are electronic devices, and are certainly not immune to malfunction. You should read the manufacturers instructions for working and maintaining your device very thoroughly before using.
While these devices may serve as a useful guide to your BAC, they are not a replacement for common sense. If you know you have had more than one unit of alcohol per hour, but your breath test says you are just under the limit, be very wary about getting in your car to drive. Remember that police officers are allowed to test you back at the station within 2 hours after your arrest, and your blood alcohol level could have actually risen during that time to put you over the limit.
4. Keep your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration easily accessible
Nothing tips off a police officer more to the fact you have been drinking than fumbling around for your driver’s license, insurance and registration documents. Taking extra time to find these documents also gives the officer a chance to lean into your window and try to smell for alcohol on your breath or person, and look around your car for any open alcohol containers. Evidence such as this can give the officer enough probable cause to arrest you, so don’t give him the chance.
The more organized and cohesive you appear, by handing him these documents quickly, the less likely he will suspect that you have been drinking. And if he asks whether or not you have been, see Number 5 below….
5. Know your rights!
The vast majority of people arrested for DUI are not aware of their pre-arrest rights, and this costs them dearly because they unwittingly help the arresting officer and later the prosecution, build a cohesive case against them. The most common mistakes are not knowing that:
a. you do not have to answer any of the officers questions after being pulled over
b. you do not have to do any of the field sobriety tests
c. you do not have to blow into the officer’s portable breath test
While you should always be polite with the officer and cooperate if he asks you to get out of the car, you do not have to tell him anything about where you have been, whether you have been drinking, or using any substances that could have affected your driving. Instead you should simply say, “Sorry Officer, but I don’t believe I need to answer that question.” Same with the field sobriety tests, if he asks you to do them, you should reply: “Sorry Officer, but my understanding is the tests are voluntary, so I decline to do them,” and likewise with the breath test.
By not helping the officer gain probable cause to arrest you, you are increasing the likelihood that he will let you go without arresting you. Of course, if you were weaving all over the road while he was behind you, or going several miles over the speed limit, he still may have probable cause to arrest you. However, if you did something minor like forget to turn on your headlights, or not use an indicator while turning, he may just let you go with a warning. The more polite and efficient you are in your dealings with him, the more likely he will be to let you go. Being rude, defensive, or talking too much will not help your cause.
If you are currently facing a DUI charge and are looking for an experienced attorney, we can match you with one in your area. Simply fill out the short contact form on our home page