The Wednesday before Thanksgiving has been dubbed "Black Out Wednesday" for many, according to the Wall Street Journal. The night before the Thanksgiving holiday has become a time when many people go out drinking with friends to celebrate the season. Police are aware of this trend, however, and typically step up enforcement significantly over the Thanksgiving season. It also kicks off the long year-end holiday season.
If you are planning to celebrate over the Thanksgiving holiday, you are not alone- but you need to make sure you do everything possible to avoid being arrested for drunk driving in South Carolina. If you do face arrest, you should also understand your rights and your options for DUI defense.
Tips for Avoiding Arrest and DUI Defense Over Thanksgiving
WLTX reports South Carolina has been named the worst state in the nation for impaired driving. This title was bestowed upon the state by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which based its claim on DUI deaths over 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available). South Carolina has been cracking down, including passing a law in 2014 requiring convicted DUI offenders with a high BAC to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicle even for first offenses.
In light of the crackdown, police are likely to be even more aggressive over this Thanksgiving weekend than in prior years. As Fox Carolina reported in the past, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety worked with local law enforcement officers to ramp up enforcement of DUI laws on the holiday weekend. The added enforcement led to a significant number of arrests, with more than 40 percent of suspects who were booked into detention facing DUI charges or accusations of having an open container of alcohol in their vehicle.
This trend of added enforcement and a higher number of arrests over Thanksgiving occurs nationwide, with Wall Street Journal reporting troopers in certain areas of the country made hundreds more arrests for DUI over Thanksgiving than over other holidays traditionally associated with high alcohol consumption, such as New Years. Of course, it is not necessarily clear if the elevated arrests are specifically associated with more people actually drinking and driving, or if the elevated arrests are caused by the fact there are more police and police are more aggressive in stopping suspected drunk drivers during times considered high-risk.
Regardless of the reason why so many are arrested for DUI over Thanksgiving, you need to do everything you can to try to avoid becoming one of the statistics. This means making sure you develop an advance plan for who will drive home--- before you start drinking. A designated driver should be selected at the start of the evening, but a backup plan should also be put into place in case the designated driver does not remain sober and able to take everyone home.
If you are arrested for DUI, you need to know what your rights are. Police, for example, cannot just pull you over or conduct a test of your BAC simply because the holidays are a time when lots of drinking happens. Without probable cause, a traffic stop or BAC test may be considered an illegal search, and thus obtained evidence would be inadmissible.