There is no disputing that people tend to drink and drive more often during the holiday season than at any other time of the year. It starts with the night before Thanksgiving, which has been dubbed "Blackout Wednesday" and is now regarded as one of the biggest drinking days of the year. The season runs through New Year's Day.
In response to the uptick in drunk driving during this period, law enforcement will amp up its efforts to keep drunk drivers off the road. Unfortunately, those who haven't had anything to drink, or are driving within the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) range below 0.08 percent, are impacted by police crackdowns.
Texas police to increase patrols during the holiday season
According to one local source, police departments across the State of Texas have received grants from TxDOT to have extra officers on patrol. In addition, many officers will be working overtime to catch drunk drivers. These efforts are a part of a national crackdown on drunk driving, which is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
All it takes is a slight traffic misstep to become a DWI suspect. Luckily, unlike many states across the U.S., Texas police are not allowed to set up sobriety checkpoints. Instead, they'll likely scan the road for certain behaviors that could indicate that a driver is intoxicated. These include:
- Swerving or crossing painted lines in the road
- Driving significantly above or below the speed limit
- Failing to use signals
- Tailgating other cars
- Stopping or braking without an apparent cause
- Taking abrupt turns
- Failing to turn on headlights
While these driving behaviors may hint that a driver is driving drunk, they only give police a reason to pull drivers over. The observations and tests that come next may give them enough probable cause to make an arrest.
It starts with observations, including:
- Listening for slurred speech
- Watching the eyes for quick movement
- Listening for delays in response
- Smelling the scent of alcohol
Drunk-driving tests will likely follow
After making observations and asking questions, a field sobriety test and breath test will most likely follow.
Field sobriety tests are administered in three tiers:
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus: The officer will move a small object (such as a pen or small flashlight) back and forth, and observe the driver's eyes.
- The walk-and-turn test: During this test, the driver must take nine steps in a straight line while touching heel-to-toe.
- The one-leg stand test: The driver must stand on one leg and hold his or her foot six inches off the ground and count until otherwise instructed by the officer.
Field sobriety tests, however, aren't as accurate as we think. Anyone who has been drinking can pass one of these tests with enough skill to do so. Any sober person who is fatigued, disabled, or lacks the physical coordination to complete the test can fail.
An officer will also likely administer a breath test. The results of a breath test may provide an officer with harder evidence. These results can be disputed, in some cases. Breathalyzers are known for being glitchy at times and yield false readings.
That's why it's best to stay vigilant this holiday season. If you are pulled over for any reason, you should always comply with the police. What you should avoid doing, however, is answering questions or trying to talk your way out of a DWI test or arrest. Speaking, no matter how innocent you may be, can only make matters worse.
If you are arrested this holiday season, let experienced Texas DWI attorney Amanda Webb do the talking for you. She has real courtroom experience helping those arrested for DWI fight the charges. To learn more, contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer.