Tampa's Holiday DUI Season Arrives

It’s that time of year again; the time for eggnog, pumpkin pie and holiday feasts. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, people everywhere are hitting the grocery stores and checking off their shopping lists so they can make their favorite dishes on Turkey Day. Even more people are getting ready for the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday.

For most Americans, Thanksgiving marks the official beginning of the holiday season. As shoppers hit stores like Costco and Total Wine & More® to stock up on their favorite wine and spirits, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Tampa PD, and the Florida Highway Patrol are gearing up for something quite different – the biggest DUI season of the year.

While New Year’s Eve is historically the holiday with the most DUI arrests in the United States, the biggest DUI season of the year begins on Thanksgiving and lasts through January 1st. In California for example, there tends to be more DUI arrests on New Year’s Eve than any other day of the year, but there are more fatal alcohol-related crashes on the Fourth of July in the Golden State.

However, law enforcement across the United States knows that Thanksgiving is a significant holiday in terms of DUI arrests and accidents. Recently, the U.S. has actually seen more deadly DUI crashes on Thanksgiving than on New Year’s Eve, according to Black’s Law Dictionary.

DUI Checkpoints During the Holidays

One of the reasons why there is an uptick in DUI arrests during the holiday season (November 24th through January 1st) is because law enforcement steps up its DUI enforcement efforts during this time.

Law enforcement agencies in Florida increase their DUI saturation patrols and checkpoints during the holidays because they know that more people are celebrating during alcohol-filled work Christmas parties, celebrations with friends and family, and New Year’s Eve bashes.

The constitutionality of DUI checkpoints have been challenged on several occasions, but the Supreme Court of the United States determined that checkpoints are necessary because they serve a greater purpose – they aim to reduce the alcohol-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association®, not all states conduct DUI checkpoints due to legal issues. Some states, such as Florida have laws that authorize the use of roadblocks/checkpoints, while other states, such as Texas make checkpoints illegal. In Florida, for example, about 15 to 20 checkpoints are conducted each month statewide.

If you are planning to drink over the holidays, we encourage you to follow these tips to ensure your celebrations are safe, fun, and DUI-free:

  • Before you start celebrating, plan a safe way home with a sober driver. Your ride can be a designated driver, a cab, Uber or Lyft.
  • Even if you’re a passenger, be sure to buckle up. There are drunk drivers out there!
  • If you are the designated driver, don’t have any drinks. A DD is supposed to be 100% alcohol-free, not less drunk than their friends.
  • If you end up drinking and did not designate a sober driver, stay safe. You can sleep on your friend’s couch, take public transportation, or call a taxi.
  • If you know someone who is drunk and about to drive, be a real friend and take the keys away from them and arrange a safe ride home for them.
  • If you’re a passenger, don’t forget that in Florida it’s illegal to possess an open container of alcohol, whether the vehicle is in motion or stopped.

At Thomas & Paulk, P.A., we want to wish you a wonderful, yet safe holiday season. While we hope that your celebrations are joyous, please don’t hesitate to contact our Tampa criminal defense firm if something is to go wrong and you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). As former prosecutors who have handled over 7,000 criminal cases, we have the knowledge and experience to defend you against DUI charges!