Spring Break is a time to relax and have fun, but getting a DUI can really ruin your vacation.
To help you stay in your board shorts and out of handcuffs, here are seven DUI legal tips for those on Spring Break:
- No open alcohol bottles in the car. Even if you aren't drinking, you can still get a ticket or be asked to take a field sobriety test if there are open alcohol containers in an unlocked compartment or area of your car. So if you're bringing alcohol to a party, make sure to travel with it in your trunk.
- Don't drive erratically near DUI checkpoints. Police only need reasonable suspicion to pull you over for a DUI. So if you suddenly make an illegal U-turn when you see a checkpoint ahead, you can be met by police even before even reaching the checkpoint.
- Under 21? Zero tolerance laws apply. If you're a Spring Breaker under the age of 21, you can get a DUI even if you only have a BAC level of 0.01 percent. So minors should stick to soda or energy drinks.
- Drugs, even if they're prescribed, can lead to a DUI. Drugged driving can also result in a DUI, even if the drugs were prescribed by your doctor. So if antihistamines are slowing you down, forget about getting behind the wheel.
- You can potentially fight a faulty Breathalyzer test. Police frequently use breath tests to determine a driver's blood-alcohol level during DUI stops. While the Breathalyzer is usually reliable, it needs to be properly calibrated in order to produce accurate readings. So if you've only had one drink during a three-hour period but the Breathalyzer is showing a BAC of 0.10 percent, a DUI attorney may be able to fight that discrepancy in court.
- Make a plan to get back to your hotel. Before the festivities begin, decide how you and your friends will get back to hotel at the end of the night. Your best bet is to call a cab or take public transportation -- not to drive around drunk in a place where you're liable to get lost. Get your hotel's business card, so you have the address on hand in case things get a little hazy.
- Remember, even a first-time DUI can be quite costly. Finally, it help you avoid a Spring Break DUI if you remember just how costly it could be to drink and drive. While most first-time DUIs are usually misdemeanors (meaning you may not be eligible for a public defender), a conviction can lead to hefty fines, court fees, and other costs you may not have thought about like having to install an ignition interlock in your car. You may also have to pay to try and get your DUI conviction expunged later on.
Keep these Spring Break DUI tips in mind when you're heading out for a night on the town.
- TxDOT's DUI campaign targets young drivers on spring break (San Antonio's KENS-TV)
- 9 No-Nos at DUI Checkpoints (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Can You Beat a DUI Charge on a Technicality? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- The FindLaw Guide to DUI Charges (FindLaw - Free Download)