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Watch Out for St. Patrick's Day DUI Checkpoints

Next Monday is St. Patrick's Day, which means law enforcement will be on the prowl to catch drunk drivers. Last year, police in Orange County arrested 45 people under suspicion of DUI while the year before there were 64 arrests. However, police said that last year, they only counted DUI arrests issued on St. Patrick's Day itself rather than throughout the whole weekend as they did the year before.

St. Patrick's Day DUI crackdowns are credited to the "Avoid the 38" program, the taskforce comprised of 38 different law enforcement agencies.

If you plan on drinking at all on St. Patrick's Day 2014, it would be wise to avoid driving altogether, especially during late night and early morning hours when law enforcement is heaviest. Use designated drivers or driving services if you do plan on drinking.

Even if you do not plan on drinking very much, there are still certain things you should know in order to prepare yourself for the potential DUI checkpoint.

  1. Talking to the officer – Be polite and respectful. When drivers are hostile or rude to law enforcement, there is a greater chance that they will be detained.
  2. Ask if you're being detained – If you are not being detained, then officers have to let you go. Police can only detain you if they have probable cause to do so. It is against the law for police to detain you/make you wait at a checkpoint for an unreasonable amount of time without probable cause that you did something wrong.
  3. You have the right to remain silent – Because anything you say can be used against you, it might be better to remain silent. The things you don't say can't be used against you. Be polite and respectful to the officer, but know you have the right to say, "I plead the fifth."
  4. You have the right to refuse a search – Police cannot lawfully search your vehicle unless they can demonstrate that they had probable cause to do so OR they obtained your consent. If they ask you if they can search your vehicle, it is probably a good idea to decline even if you have nothing to hide. This can avoid a potentially self-incriminating situation.
  5. Refusing a Field Sobriety or Chemical Test – While it is not against the law to refuse a field sobriety test, refusing a chemical test is a violation of the California Vehicle Code and can warrant automatic license suspension. For more on this topic, read our blog "Should I Refuse the Field Sobriety Tests?"

Call (949) 537-2202 for a free consultation if you are arrested for drunk driving. Put the skill of Orange County DUI Lawyer Virginia Landry and her team on your side!