Though not a legal holiday in the United States, St Patrick’s Day is widely recognized as a day to celebrate Irish culture. It is often said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoying parades, good food and alcohol are some of the ways that Americans celebrate the holiday. Unfortunately, along with lots of drinking comes the risk of drunk driving. Over the years, this holiday has also ended in tragedy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there were 276 drunk driving related deaths between the years of 2009 and 2013.
Illinois State Police Cracking Down on Drunk Drivers
Because of the many fatalities that have occurred as a result of driving under the influence on St. Patrick’s Day, the Illinois State Police in conjunction with IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) and more than 150 local law enforcement agencies are going out in force this St. Patrick’s Day to protect against drunk driving and make sure people are wearing seat belts. Starting the weekend before and continuing through the weekend after St. Patrick’s Day, law enforcement will:
- Conduct roadside safety checks
- Plan saturation patrols
- Enforce seat belt laws
This initiative is meant to remind drivers to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” and “Click it or Ticket.”
Plan Ahead to Prevent DUI
As part of this initiative, IDOT is reminding drivers to plan ahead for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. If you plan to celebrate the holiday by drinking, then make sure to have a plan for how to get home safely. IDOT is urging drivers to:
- Choose a designated driver before the celebrations start.
- If you drink, use a taxi, mass transit or a sober friend to drive you home.
- Report drunk drivers to law enforcement.
- Wear seat belts.
- Watch your friends, and don’t let anyone you know drive drunk.
Roadside Safety Checks
Legally, law enforcement can set up roadside safety checks to look for drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As part of this St. Patrick’s Day safety initiative, law enforcement officers will have roadside DUI checkpoints set up. This will allow them to pull over cars without first having probable cause that an offense has been committed. They must pull over cars using the set pattern or sequence, such as every third card. Once they pull over the car indicated by the pattern, then they will look for probable cause for a DUI arrest. Drivers suspected of DUI will be asked to complete sobriety tests. Law enforcement officers are looking for:
- The smell of alcohol.
- Slurred speech.
- Bloodshot eyes.
- Clumsy behavior.
- Difficulty handing over ID and insurance.
What to Do if Stopped at DUI Checkpoint
If you get stopped at a DUI safety checkpoint, it is important to be polite and considerate to the police officer. This may be an annoyance to you, but it will be over more quickly if you are pleasant and cooperative. However, politeness and cooperativeness does not meant that it is necessary to hand the officers evidence against you. When pulled over, do:
- Give the officers your license, registration and insurance.
- Politely refuse to answer any other questions.
What to Do if Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint
This first step after an arrest is to contact a reputable DUI attorney. Any time you are arrested, it is important to get a criminal defense attorney to represent your rights. A DUI defense attorney can stand up for you and make sure that your rights are protected. Never attempt to defend yourself. Always:
- Tell the officer that you wish to speak to an attorney.
- Tell the officer that you will exercise your right to remain silent.
Exercising your right to remain silent is in no way an admission of guilt. It is the best way to ensure that your words are not twisted or used against you. Protect yourself by remaining silent and speaking with an attorney.
During this holiday week, law enforcement agencies across Illinois are working overtime to conduct saturation patrols. This just means that there will be a lot more police officers on patrol looking for drunk drivers and people not wearing seat belts. As long as you plan ahead and remember to never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, this will not be a problem. Remember to obey all traffic laws and you can make it through the week without a ticket, and hopefully safer since they will be catching drunk drivers. If you are pulled over, remember to be polite, provide the officer with your license, registration and insurance, and know that you do not have to answer any other unnecessary questions.
Seat Belt Laws
It is the law in Illinois to wear a seatbelt, and it is your best protection in an accident. Though it may not seem like drunk driving and seat belt laws go together, wearing a seat belt will protect you in an alcohol related crash. Never drink and drive, and always wear a seat belt. If you do those things, you will be safe and ticket free during the week of St. Patrick’s Day.
DUI Defense Attorney Needed
A DUI arrest means that you need a DUI defense attorney. If you get arrested for DUI this St. Patrick’s Day week, call Dennis F. Dwyer to represent your DUI case. He has a strong record of protecting his clients from DUI charges, and ensuring that his clients have excellent representation. If your St. Patrick’s Day week ends in an arrest, call Dennis F. Dwyer right away.