April 24, 2020

DRIVING AND DUI IN THE TIME OF COVID

Although a recent review of media sources revealed that the number of actual DUI cases are down, those reports did not account for and consider the actual reduction of motorist traffic. It seems likely that when you consider the reduction of traffic nationwide, the reduction in DUI arrests may be simply a function of a reduction of traffic, there does not appear to be a reduction in enforcement efforts. In fact, a similar review of media reports looking for DUI arrests, revealed that there seems to be a slight uptick in the filing of more serious felony DUI charges.

Interestingly, in some of the areas most hard hit by the pandemic, such as New York and New England, there has been no reduction in the number of tickets generated by speed cameras. The speed cameras and likely the red-light cameras as well, are generating the same number of tickets as those generated prior to the pandemic. Moreover, despite the fall off of traffic in those areas, there has been an uptick in distracted and drunk driving arrests. This uptick is also occurring in Los Angeles. In metropolitan Chicago, where there is a similar traffic drop as Los Angeles, anecdotal reports indicate no reduction in enforcement action by the police. In fact, in Houston, Texas, which has shown an almost identical reduction in traffic as the Chicago metro area, there seems to be no reduction in enforcement action by the police. A review of the Harris County court records shows a substantial number of DUI and distracted driving arrests.

Our advice, as always, is to be safe and always assume when you are out after consuming alcohol that you will run into the police, or they will run into you. If you are stopped, remember you are under no obligation to participate in their field tests. You always have the right to refuse the breath test; or to take the test if you think you will pass. Although the statutory suspension will be longer if you refuse, the absence of any evidence against you might help at a hearing or trial. But remember, we have all watched TV and seen the obvious drunk in the stands at sporting events. Be smart, be safe, and if you are accused by the police, call us. We are here to help you through any arrest.

Sources: Streetsblog:

Harris County Courts: https://www.hcdistrictclerk.com/edocs/public/search.aspx?newsuits=1&ShowFF=1

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