With St. Patty’s day right around the corner everyone can expect at least three things, people dressed in green, excessive drinking, and DUIs. The Law Offices of Lords and Cate wants everyone to enjoy the celebration responsibly and avoid jail. Here are 10 tips for avoiding a DUI.

  1. Don’t drink and drive.

The easiest way to avoid a DUI is to simply not drink and drive. Have a designated drive. If you don’t have a designated driver, call a cab, or in some cases the sheriff’s office will be offering sober rides at no cost. Every year there is a “sober ride” program in Nashville Tennessee, before going out look it up, save the number, and use it before getting behind the wheel.

  1. If you make the wise decision to sleep it off, hide your keys outside the vehicle.

If you decide to sleep it off in your car, make sure that the car is not running and the keys are hidden outside the vehicle. Get in the back seat; don’t sleep in the front seats. In Tennessee, you can be prosecuted for DUI if you are in physical control of the vehicle; this has been interpreted to mean the ability to control use and non-use (aka. drive the vehicle if you wanted to). If you are caught in the back seat asleep without the keys anywhere in the vehicle, you have a very good defense.

Oh, and don’t tell the officer that you know where the keys are. Tell the officer that you have no idea where they are, or that you lost them somewhere that night and you couldn’t find them.

  1. Don’t drink on an empty stomach.

Drinking on an empty stomach will increase your likelihood of impairment. Make sure that you eat a meal while you are drinking, and be careful not to drink too much.

  1. Check your license plate light, taillights, break lights, blinkers, and headlights.

Police officers will be looking for any reason whatsoever to pull you over. Taking the time to ensure that all your lights are working will reduce your risk of being stopped.

Also, make sure that your registration is up to date, your license is valid, and you have a current insurance card.

  1. Obey every traffic law.

This means don’t drink and drive, but since you’re going to do it anyway; use your blinker when making a turn, obey the speed limit, no rolling stops, and keep it between the lines.

  1. Check the local paper and local news websites for sobriety checkpoints.

It is extremely common for police to put up sobriety checkpoints. The thing about these checkpoints is that they have to be announced. You can look up the checkpoint’s location online, in the local paper, or just call the police department and ask.

Though checkpoints seem like a clear violation of your right to privacy, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Tennessee Supreme Court have found that they are constitutional for the single purpose of combating drunk driving. There are, however, some serious restrictions on these checkpoints so if you get arrested at one, you might have a defense.

  1. Stay off your phones.

Being on your phone is a sure way to get the attention of police officers and likely to get you pulled over. Police officers can pull you over for simply looking at your phone. Put it down, turn it off if you have to, but whatever you do don’t have it in your hand while driving. You are already putting other people at risk; there is no need to multiply that risk by playing on your phone while driving.

  1. Don’t let someone who has been drinking drive you home in your car.

If you have been drinking do not give your keys to someone else who has been drinking and let them drive you home. If your driver is pulled over and arrested for DUI you will get charged with a DUI as well. You are better off hiding your keys outside the vehicle and sleeping it off in the back seat.

  1. If you get pulled over (and you know you are above the legal limit of .08).

If you see those blue lights flashing behind you I suggest the following.

  • Roll down your windows while pulling over. This will help get rid of some of the alcohol smell.
  • Start chewing a piece of gum or a mint.
  • Make sure you have your license, registration, and proof of insurance ready when the officer gets to your window.
  • When the officer gets to your window don’t talk to him, don’t look at him, just hand him your documents.
  • Do not answer any of the officer’s questions, just keep looking forward.
  • If the officer instructs you to get out of the vehicle, get out.
  • If the officer instructs you to do any field sobriety tests, just shake your head no.
  • If the officer tells you to take a breathalyzer test, shake your head no.
  • The officer will arrest you and you will be taken to the hospital where they will ask to take your blood, just shake your head no.
  • You will then be booked for DUI and you will be able to make your bond.

If you don’t answer any questions the officer cannot say that you slurred your speech, if you don’t take the breathalyzer or give blood there is no physical evidence that you were intoxicated, if you don’t do the field sobriety tests the officer cannot claim that you were falling all over the place, and if you have your documents ready when the officer gets to your window the officer cannot say that you were fumbling around looking for them.

If you don’t give the police any evidence that you have been drinking, it becomes very difficult for the State to convict you of a DUI. Until February 2014, it was typically a good idea to take the field sobriety tests to show that you were not impaired, but with the recent Tennessee Supreme Court decision State v. Bell, field sobriety tests cannot help you at all. Even if you pass them 100% perfectly, it doesn’t matter.

  1. Call The Law Offices of Lords and Cate.

If you get arrested for DUI you will need representation. Call The Law Offices of Lords and Cate at (615) 418-9814 and let us help you.

We cannot stress enough the importance of having a designated driver. Not only will having a designated driver keep you from getting a DUI but it just might save a life. Be smart this St. Patty’s day, have fun, and get home safely.