Stay Safe This New Year—Don’t Drink and Drive

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When ringing in the New Year, many celebrate with a few drinks. Unfortunately many also drive while under the influence of alcohol after they’ve been celebrating. According to SafeAuto, there are about 71% more crashes on New Year’s that involve drugs or alcohol. Drunk driving is always a serious crime, and on New Year’s it is a serious problem. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol impairs driving and reaction time, making drunk driving a dangerous activity. Widespread awareness of the problem has resulted in declining drunk driving numbers, but it is still a problem—New Year’s is the second most deadly day for drivers.

Startling DUI Stats

  • There are an average of 140 drunk driving related deaths on New Year’s (stats from SafeAuto).
  • The highest number of deaths related to alcohol occur on January 1st (stats from SafeAuto).
  • On most days, around 30 people die in alcohol related driving accidents (stats from the CDC—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

As you can see from the stats, there is a startling increase in alcohol related driving deaths on New Year’s. While each day 30 people die, on New Year’s that number more than quadruples. In 2013, the latest year in which stats are available, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol related driving crashes. Just in Illinois, 317 people were killed in alcohol related crashes in 2013.

Probable Cause

Law enforcement officers cannot just pull over every driver on the road looking for proof of wrongdoing. They need to have probable cause before they can pull someone over. Since driving under the influence causes impaired driving, law enforcement will be looking for impaired driving as probable cause for pulling a car over for DUI. Impaired driving can include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving too slow
  • Swerving
  • Driving erratically
  • Following too closely
  • Improper lane change
  • No headlights
  • Driving wrong way on one-way streets

If the officer pulls you over for another legitimate cause such as speeding or a broken tail light, he still must have probable cause for considering a DUI. Once you are pulled over, the officer will look for more evidence that points to a DUI. Probable cause for a DUI could include:

  • The smell of alcohol on your breath or in the car.
  • Open alcohol containers.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Fumbling with license and registration.
  • Difficulty with motor controls.
  • Swaying.

Once the officer believes that you have been driving under the influence, he or she will try to obtain evidence against you. This may be in the form of a sobriety test or a chemical test if there is probable cause. Your every move will be watched to see if you display evidence of impairment.

Sobriety Checkpoints

In order to combat the dangers of drunk driving, Illinois law has strict penalties for those convicted of DUI. While most times officers can only pull drivers over for drunk driving when they have probable cause, they are allowed to conduct sobriety checkpoints. Sobriety checkpoints are legal in Illinois. They must be clearly marked and advanced notice given. At these checkpoints, drivers are stopped and briefly questioned while police look for evidence of impairment. Drivers that show evidence of impairment may be asked to complete sobriety tests. Officers still must have probable cause before arresting for driving under the influence.

What To Do if You are Arrested for DUI

If you are arrested for driving under the influence this New Year’s, you should contact an attorney right away. Remember that the police are doing their best to gather evidence against you. Do not give them the evidence they want. Enact your right to remain silent by telling the officer that you want to speak to your attorney and that you will use your right to remain silent. Then make sure to remain silent and wait until you speak with your attorney.


  • Ask to speak with an attorney.
  • Tell the officer that you are using your right to remain silent.
  • Remain silent.

Illinois DUI Defense Attorney Needed

If you find yourself arrested for DUI this New Year’s, contact Dennis F. Dwyer as soon as possible. Dennis F. Dwyer is a Chicago DUI defense attorney with ample experience defending the rights of those accused of DUI in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Stay safe this New Year’s, and remember to call his office today to discuss your DUI charges if needed.

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