Driving under the influence of alcohol is incredibly dangerous. If caught driving over the legal limit, you can face a fine, have your license suspended, and even wind up in jail. Of course, all of these consequences pale in comparison to the guilt and regret you will deal with if you end up injuring or killing someone as a result of your drunk driving. Fortunately, there are several ways you can prevent drinking and driving and act more responsibly.
Our criminal defense attorneys in Montgomery County, PA, know that driving under the influence is much more common than many drivers want to believe. However, avoiding a DUI can be simple with just a little prior planning. Let’s review some ways to prevent drunk driving the next time you’re out on the town. Use these tips to avoid the temptation to drink and drive:
1. Always Have a Designated Driver
Going out is always more fun with friends. When planning an evening, make sure someone is willing to be designated as a designated driver. This strategy for preventing drinking and driving is fool-proof as whoever volunteers as the designated driver will remain sober throughout the entire evening and be able to navigate the roadways for their friends safely. Many bars and entertainment venues also offer free non-alcoholic drinks to a party’s designated drivers.
2. Don’t Drink When You’re Alone
If you do choose to go out by yourself, avoid drinking. You are more likely to take risks behind the wheel while alone in a vehicle. This, combined with the influence of alcohol, is a bad mix that will result in an unpleasant situation. To prevent drinking and driving on your part, order a club soda, soft drink, or mocktail instead. You can have just as good of a time without alcohol as you can with it!
3. Eat Plenty of Food
When you drink on an empty stomach, you experience a much more rapid progression to intoxication. This can lead to lowered inhibitions and increase the likelihood of you drinking and driving. Although you can still easily fall under the influence of alcohol with food or without, adding a meal into the mix can help reduce the chances of drinking and driving.
4. Download a Rideshare App on Your Phone
One of the best ways to stop drinking and driving is to not indulge in it at all. Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft are making it easier than ever to avoid drinking and driving. Download a ridesharing app or taxi app ahead of time, link a payment method, and familiarize yourself with the app functionality before heading out for a safe night.
5. Spend the Night
Although this might not be possible at a public location, if you are visiting a friend or family member and drinking at their home, you can ask to stay the night. A relative or friend would be more than welcome to have you stay rather than drive home intoxicated. A friendly invitation to a sleepover is a great way to stop someone from driving drunk.
6. Do Not Get In a Car With Someone Who’s Been Drinking
It is important to note that you should never get in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking and intends to drive. Riding with someone who is intoxicated and driving is just as dangerous as getting behind the wheel yourself. Likewise, never get in a car with an individual who is also actively consuming alcohol while driving.
Remember, the act of drinking and driving is more than just about you or the person you’re traveling with.
When Can You Be Charged With Drunk Driving in Pennsylvania?
Under Pennsylvania criminal DUI laws, motorists are prohibited from being in physical control of or driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most people believe this means you must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08% or more. However, this is not always the case.
If you are under the influence or impaired by any type of controlled substance and are in control of or driving a motor vehicle, you can be charged criminally. This means you do not necessarily need to have been operating a vehicle as long as you were in control of it. For example, if you were in the driver’s seat with a vehicle turned on but were not actively driving, you may still be at risk of DUI charges. There are two types of DUIs in Pennsylvania. These include:
- Impairment DUIs – With an impairment DUI, drivers are incapable of driving safely due to intoxication, impairment, or incapacitation due to the use of a valid prescription medication or controlled substance.
- Per se DUIs – Police do not need to prove actual impairment for drivers to be convicted of a per se DUI if the driver’s BAC levels were found at .08% or more.
It should be noted that the threshold for per se DUIs is lower for underage drivers at .02%, commercial drivers at .04%, and bus drivers at .02%. Your attorney will carefully review the evidence in your case to determine whether the DUI charges against you meet the elements of the offense. If they do not, we can challenge the prosecutor’s case and potentially get the charges against you dismissed.
What to Do if You Are Arrested For a DUI in PA
If you are stopped for suspicion of drunk driving, it is important to remain calm and not resist arrest. You could face additional criminal charges if you resist being taken into police custody. If law enforcement asks you to complete a field sobriety test, you can politely decline. There is no legal obligation to agree to a field sobriety test, and these tests can also be used against you at trial, despite the fact that field sobriety test results are often considered unreliable evidence.
However, if the police ask you to agree to a chemical blood alcohol test, you should always agree. Unfortunately, under Pennsylvania’s implied consent laws, motorists give their implied consent to chemical blood alcohol testing on suspicion of DUI. You can legally refuse to agree, but you can expect severe consequences. For example, your license may be suspended even if the charges against you are dismissed or you are ultimately acquitted.
If the police take you into custody, as soon as you have been booked and are given the opportunity to make a phone call, make sure you contact a DUI lawyer or a family member who can help you post bail and get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney. From there, you can figure out what your next steps should be and what to expect as you face these charges.
Contact a Pennsylvania DUI Attorney for Help Today
A DUI charge is the least of your worries when engaged in an activity that may harm or kill someone else. Do not take a chance with your freedom, your life, or the lives of others. Follow the above strategies to not drink alcohol or avoid driving when you do. We can all participate in the prevention of drunk driving and help reduce the injuries and harm it causes.
If you have been charged with a DUI, you need an attorney experienced in DUI law in Bucks County. Contact Kalikhman and Rayz, LLC, for assistance in determining the best next step in your unique case.