The holiday season is when many drivers tend to let down their guard when they get behind the wheel. Whether they are celebrating at home or are out at small gatherings, Americans double their drinking during the holidays. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans are 69% more likely to drink too much than they would at other times of the year. Our team at Hogan Eickhoff would like to warn you about the dangers and ramifications of drinking and driving.
DUI Arrests Are Always Up During the Holidays
The danger is when they try to drive after having had too much to drink. According to CDC statistics, Wisconsinites tend to drive after drinking too much at a much higher rate than the national average. This gets even worse over the holidays when egg nog and other celebratory alcohol seem to be everywhere.
Not only do Americans drink more during the holidays, but police officers are far more likely to pull motorists over for driving under the influence of alcohol during this time. Police departments across the country arrest many more motorists during the holiday season.
There is both a cause and an effect here. Arrests are up because more people drive drunk. Additionally, there are more stops because police have stepped up DUI enforcement during the holiday season. This is true in Wisconsin as the police look to bring down the state’s unfortunately high DUI rate.
While we are presumably aware that driving drunk is a crime and puts everyone at risk, mistakes happen. In addition, during periods of increased enforcement, police often become overzealous with their enforcement efforts, sometimes ensnaring innocent people into the criminal justice system. If you are accused of driving drunk this holiday season, it’s important to protect your rights by calling a lawyer as soon as you can.
Wisconsin Has Tough DUI Laws
The state has strict DUI laws due to the high number of arrests in the state. In Wisconsin, you can even be arrested for sitting behind the wheel of a running car while intoxicated, even if you are not driving (This is called OWI). Wisconsin is looking at tightening its laws even further in the future.
Starting in December, Wisconsin State Police increase their patrols to catch and arrest drunk drivers. Although Wisconsin does not have roadside sobriety checkpoints, this does not stop Wisconsin police officers from making more DUI arrests during the holidays. There is an annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement campaign that combines federal, state, and local resources to keep Wisconsin roadways safe.
This initiative means that there are more police officers on the state’s roads who are working longer shifts. Traditionally, this starts during the second week of December and lasts through New Year’s. This means more arrests, both in the Appleton area and across Wisconsin.
The Consequences of a DUI Arrest
For drivers who are stopped by the police on suspicion of DUI, it is a frightening experience. This starts from the moment that they see the flashing lights in their rear-view mirror and realize that they may be in legal jeopardy. There are very real ramifications that drivers face from a DUI arrest that can impact their lives both in the short and long run. Some of the consequences for a DUI arrest and conviction can include:
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
- A dramatic increase in your insurance cost
- A criminal record that could impact your job if you are in certain professions or industries
- Strains in your personal relationships in the wake of your conviction
- Loss of eligibility for certain public or private programs
If this is not your first DUI arrest or conviction, you may be subject to escalating penalties. Repeat DUI offenses will lead to a jail sentence. A second conviction can even lead to up to six months in prison.
Defendants Can Inadvertently Waive Their Legal Rights
When defendants are left to their own devices in the legal system, they may end up waiving some of their legal rights. The problem is that they will not realize it until it is too late. The court will not give any leniency or flexibility to a defendant without an attorney who said something that they should not have.
Going it alone during the legal process after a DUI arrest can have impacts upon the resolution of your case. The average person does not know what they should and should not say to a police officer. Most lawyers would advise you never to speak with law enforcement without your attorney present.
A DUI Attorney Can Work with Prosecutors
In addition, your attorney would know how to work with the prosecutor to arrange a favorable plea agreement should you choose to plead guilty to the charges. Most DUI cases will not end up going to trial since defendants choose not to fight the charges in court. However, the prosecutor may not make their best offer first.
You need a DUI attorney to negotiate on your behalf with the state. Defendants would not know what type of plea agreement they could negotiate with the state without an attorney. Your lawyer would know whether you could possibly get a better deal from law enforcement.
Don’t Delay in Hiring an Attorney
The longer you wait to get a lawyer, the more complicated your legal picture may get. Law enforcement starts working on your case the second you are arrested. If you do not have legal representation at the early stages of the criminal process, you are at risk of your constitutional rights being violated.
A DUI is a criminal charge, and you have the full protections that the criminal justice system offers defendants. However, someone needs to assert your legal rights. When you are under stress and lack detailed knowledge of the legal system, you would not be able to speak up on your own behalf. At the same time, police officers are trying to question you when you do not know that silence is the best course of action.
As you can see, the stakes are high in a DUI case. Don’t make the mistake of trying to handle everything on your own.
If You Have Been Arrested, Contact an Appleton DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, it is critical that you hire legal counsel at the first possible opportunity. Contact an Appleton DUI lawyer at the law firm of Hogan Eickhoff to help protect your legal rights. Call us at (920) 450-9800 or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation.