Holiday DUIs By the Numbers

Since alcohol consumption increases during the winter holidays, police officers use controversial tactics to make more DUI arrests.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are times of considerable celebration for many people. They are also times of considerable pain for many people. As a result, it’s unsurprising that 25% of adults admit they consume too much alcohol during the winter holidays. Since the number of fatal alcohol-related crashes increases considerably as well, law enforcement agencies often pull out all the stops to keep “drunk drivers” off the road from late November to early January. More on that below.

When police officers take shortcuts to pad their arrest totals, a Norcross criminal defense lawyer often invalidates the arrests in court. Officers cannot detain motorists based on a hunch. They cannot arrest a driver if they think the motorist might be intoxicated. Sometimes, a judge throws these cases out of court. Other times, rather than face almost certain defeat in court, prosecutors make very generous plea bargain offers, such as reducing a DUI to reckless driving.

DUI Roadblocks

We mentioned that police officers cannot detain motorists based on a hunch. The reasonable articulable suspicion rule requires officers to have an evidence-based hunch, at least in most cases.

Intoxication checkpoints, which the Supreme Court authorized in 1990, are one major exception. Officers may detain motorists at checkpoints if the roadblock meets certain legal requirements, including:

Additionally, police officers at the checkpoint must respect individual rights. Under the Fifth Amendment, motorists must produce documents for inspection, such as proof of insurance, and obey basic “step out of the car” commands. However, they do not have to answer questions or even roll down their windows.

STEP Campaigns

Selective Traffic Enforcement Program campaigns are basically grant-sponsored police dragnets. As a result, a Norcross criminal defense lawyer can often successfully challenge the legality of the initial stop.

Typically, a STEP campaign involves removing officers from their normal duty assignments, reassigning them to a specific part of town, and ordering them to issue specific citations, such as DUI citations.

Usually, the state or federal government gives a local law enforcement agency money to pay officers overtime and other expenses. To justify this outlay, supervisors often encourage officers to pad their arrest totals and pull over motorists who have clearly done nothing wrong.

Frequently, supervisors take officers off desk duty and assign them to field duty. These inexperienced officers often make critical mistakes.

If the initial stop was illegal, the subsequent arrest was also illegal, causing the prosecutor’s case to collapse like a house of cards.

Work With a Gwinnett County DUI Defense Attorney

The rush to arrest drunk drivers often compromises these cases in court. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Norcross, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.