How to Avoid an Arrest for Drinking and Driving over Thanksgiving


With Thanksgiving right around the corner, people in Sarasota are getting ready to gather with their families to enjoy delicious food in the warm company of loved ones. Thanksgiving weekend, unfortunately, is also a time of year when the rate of alcohol-related traffic accidents spikes sharply. According to a report published in Forbes, Thanksgiving is actually the holiday with the most fatal DUI accidents nationwide, with an average of 567 deaths per year since 1982. In light of this, law enforcement agencies throughout Florida will be cracking down on drunk drivers to keep the roads safe.

DUI Crackdown in Sarasota for Thanksgiving 2013

The Sarasota Police Department announced that they will be running a "Click It or Ticket" campaign from November 18th through December 1st to target offenders over the Thanksgiving holiday. The Sarasota County Sherriff's Office has made their own announcement that they will also be participating in the campaign. While the campaign is ostensibly focused on enforcing the seatbelt laws, there is another thing at work here. A police officer cannot legally pull a driver over on suspicion of drinking and driving unless he or she has reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the officer notices a seatbelt violation, this gives an excuse to make a traffic stop.

While speaking with the driver about the seatbelt violation, the officer will have the opportunity to look for signs of intoxication, such as red eyes, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol or other types of evidence. To avoid this, you can simply wear your seatbelt and not offer an excuse to pull you over. Similarly, the Florida Highway Patrol issued a release yesterday about this year's Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a campaign which will focus on drunk driving and other types of unsafe driving through the Thanksgiving weekend. The FHP reports making 145 arrests for DUI statewide over Thanksgiving 2012, and they will be on the hunt for drunk drivers this year to make the same number of arrests or more.

Guide to Surviving a DUI Stop

The single most effective step you can take to avoid being arrested for drinking and driving this Thanksgiving is to not get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. This should go without saying, since anyone who drives drunk places his own life and the lives of others at risk. Unfortunately, not everyone who is arrested for DUI is guilty. The strategies that law enforcement use to catch drunk drivers are anything but perfect, and often result in the arrest and conviction of people who were not actually breaking the law. If you do find yourself being pulled over and investigated for driving under the influence, here are some things you can do to reduce the chances of an arrest:

  • Be polite when speaking with the officer
  • Answer only the questions required by law, including giving your name and supplying your license and registration
  • Exercise the Fifth Amendment by – politely – refusing to answer questions about where you are coming from, where you are going and whether you have been drinking
  • Early in the stop, and frequently throughout the encounter, ask the officer if you are being detained or if you are free to go; unless you are being formally detained, you cannot be required to stay, but the officer may continue to question you while looking for a reason to place you under arrest
  • Don't agree to take the roadside field sobriety tests, including the one-leg stand and the walk-and-turn; these tests have been proven time and again to be less than 100% accurate, and they are not required by law
  • If you are detained, insist on speaking with an attorney and call The Law Office of Wyndel G. Darville, PLLC at 941-564-5319

Need a DUI Attorney in Sarasota, FL?

Hopefully, you will make it through Thanksgiving weekend safe and happy and will not get into any trouble with the law. In the event that you or a loved one is arrested, do not hesitate to contact my criminal defense firm for a free case evaluation to discuss the situation and learn about your options for resolving the charges as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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