Are you planning to head to the bars on Blackout Wednesday? If so, you're hardly alone.
Blackout Wednesday seemed to start somewhat simultaneously in a number of different cities all at once, but it has grown rapidly in popularity. In some major cities, like Chicago, it even outranks St. Patrick's Day and New Year's Eve as a night for binge drinkers to go out on the town and tie one on.
If you're determined to go, here are a few smart things to plan ahead of time:
1. Put the business card of a DUI attorney who specializes in drunk driving, public intoxication, and other alcohol-related arrests in your wallet. Just because you aren't driving doesn't mean that you can't end up in trouble for something like public intoxication or disturbing the peace if you allow yourself to get a little too festive.
2. Do not, under any circumstances, relieve yourself in an alley or another public place if you need to urinate. In 13 states, you can end up on the sex offender registry for doing so. If you are female and the line to the women's room is long, tough it out. Do not barge into the men's room and go to the bathroom there. Given the various "bathroom bills" around the country, you don't want to take the risk that you could end up in legal trouble for that either.
3. Do not get behind the wheel of a car if you have been drinking. The police are quite aware of what happens every Wednesday before Thanksgiving and will be out in droves. Unless you are 100% sober, it is best to put your keys in your pocket, leave the car where it is, and call a friend, Uber, Lyft, or a taxi to get home.
4. Do not assume that you can't get arrested if you are under the legal limit for driving while intoxicated/under the influence. Having a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher just means that you've automatically made the case for the prosecutor -- your driving could be perfect and you could have been pulled over for something like an expired tag or a shorted out taillight when the officer smelled the liquor on you and realized you had been drinking. At 0.08% and above, you're legally too drunk to drive, period.
However, you can be arrested for driving under the influence and being dangerously inebriated even if you don't hit the legal limit for drunkenness. If the officer who pulls you over has you on film driving erratically, weaving, or making other traffic errors, it doesn't matter if you have a blood alcohol content of 0.06%. It just means that your tolerance for alcohol is lower and you're still committing a crime.
5. Consider your position very carefully before you answer any questions the police officer asks you if you are pulled over and you have been drinking (despite this advice). You are under no obligation to tell the officer where you have been and what you were doing. However, you also can't lie (that's interfering in a police investigation, which is another crime). You can either answer the officer honestly (and realize that you're probably going to get put through roadside testing and a breathalyzer) or you can respectfully decline to answer and ask to call your attorney. You may still get pulled out of the car and put through testing, but you at least won't have handed the prosecution any evidence that can be used against you without a challenge.
For more information, or if you need an attorney due to drunk driving arrest following Blackout Wednesday, talk to an attorney today.