Celebrating Super Bowl Sunday often goes hand-in-hand with consuming alcoholic beverages. Drinking may begin mid-afternoon on Sunday and continue late into Sunday night. What kind of advice did your client follow? Of course, the best advice to take would be to not drink at all if planning to drive. It takes the uncertainty out of the answers to questions such as: 1) When do I need to stop drinking? 2) Did I have enough to eat? 3) I feel fine to drive but would I be under the legal limit? Some safety advisors suggest that hosts of Super Bowl Sunday parties stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game and then bring out more food and coffee. That advice may prevent Monday morning hangovers, but it is not going to prevent some clients from driving with an unsafe amount of alcohol in their system.
Monday morning comes around and you are contacted by clients with DUI arrests. What do you need to know to understand these cases? Does it matter what the timing of the alcohol level was? If a drug test was also done, what do the results mean? Are there false positives? Do the drug levels correlate with level of impairment?
Super Bowl weekend is one of the busiest times for sports bars where people travel to get home. Law enforcement is on particular alert during these peak events. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that of the 309 automobile accidents in the state on Super Bowl Sunday in 2015, nearly 20 of them involved impaired drivers. That does not include possible arrests at checkpoints. The Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence, (DUI) Association announced last week that local law enforcement and the Pennsylvania State Police would be enforcing Pennsylvania’s driving under the influence laws during the Super Bowl weekend, leading to an increase in DUI arrests.
PennDOT’s safe driving website, Just Drive PA, reminds us that Pennsylvania continues to enhance its alcohol- and drug-impaired enforcement by training officers in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement and the Drug Recognition Expert programs. There were 52,636 DUI arrests in Pennsylvania in 2014, a decrease from the 54,121 arrests made in 2013. However, the number of DUI-drug arrests continues to increase, with 20,691 charges for driving impaired by drugs and prescription medication, or some combination of these, which is a 10 percent increase from 2013.
Interested in learning more from a top notch expert? Attend “Toxicology 101 for Attorneys” on Feb. 17. There is so much to know about the science behind drug and alcohol related impairment. This one-credit CLE activity will start with some basic principles for attorneys that will help them evaluate these types of cases.