Do Drunk Driving Charges Increase in the Summer?
May 28, 2021
With the longer days and the warm, sunny weather, people across the United States use the summer season to get outside and enjoy each other’s company. The many joyful gatherings normally mean alcohol will be involved, which may lead to people making poor decisions. This likely contributes to the rise in drunk driving offenses often seen during the summer, as well as other factors. Also, with Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions beginning to ease and more people itching to get out, this summer may see more of an increase in DUI charges.
Statistically, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day see a rise not only in drunk driving charges, but also in drunk driving-related fatalities. This is especially true among younger drivers, who are in between school years or semesters. Perhaps the most celebrated holiday of the summer, the Fourth of July, sees an almost 40 percent increase in drunk driving deaths. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ranks all three major summer holidays in the top four deadliest days of the year.
Tips to Prevent Drunk Driving
The most important, yet most obvious, way to prevent drunk driving is to not consume alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel. Summer activities usually involve groups of people, so reminding other drivers the danger of impaired driving is imperative to its prevention.
Here are a few more helpful tips to help get home safely:
- Have a designated driver. It is important to know that even one drink can lead to a deadly car accident, so it is wise to have a designated driver just in case. The designated driver should be completely sober, without having one alcoholic drink whatsoever.
- Use a ride-share service. Getting a ride home by a sober driver is easier now than it ever had been, with services such as ride-share apps and other taxi services.
- Get picked up. Friends and family would much rather have a loved one get home safely from a holiday party than to see something happen to them. Those drinking alcohol should not hesitate to ask someone for a ride home or arrange for it in advance.
- Drink water and eat. Most people believe one or two drinks would not affect them, but that could not be further from the truth. A few drinks on an empty stomach amplifies the effects of alcohol as well. A person drinking any amount of alcohol should always be well hydrated and have food in their stomach to slow the alcohol absorption.
Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Laws
Local and state law enforcement increase their presence on the roads during the summer to deter drunk drivers. Roadways in the area will likely have sobriety checkpoints on different evenings. Towns with busy bars and restaurants will also have more police activity, particularly around holidays.
It is illegal to operate a vehicle in Pennsylvania under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or any controlled substance. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent but is lower for commercial drivers at .04 percent. Furthermore, a driver under 21 years old will be convicted of a DUI charge if any amount of alcohol, or greater a BAC of .02 percent, is found in their system.
The severity of a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania depends on the specifics of the current charge and if there were any prior convictions in the past 10 years. Pennsylvania’s DUI charges are also divided into three different categories: general impairment, high-rate, and highest-rate:
- General impairment. The general impairment DUI is for drivers with a BAC of at least .08 percent but less than .10 percent. The first offense is six months of probation with no license suspension, whereas the second and third offense can range from days to two years and a 12-month license suspension.
- High-rate DUI. This charge is for drivers with a BAC of at least .10 percent but less than .16 percent. First-offense penalties include jail time, with up to three years for the third offense.
- Highest-rate DUI. The highest-rate charge is for offenders with a BAC of .16 percent and above, or for drivers who refused a breathalyzer test. Jail time is three days to five years.
Furthermore, anyone convicted of a DUI must pass an alcohol and drug evaluation from the state and any further treatments. Other penalties consist of community service or extensive fines. Additionally, Pennsylvania does have a program for first-time DUI offenders that may reduce the penalty called the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.
West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes Fight for Those Wrongfully Charged with DUI
Drunk driving is dangerous, yet it is understandable that mistakes are made. Being charged with a DUI can be confusing and stressful, but know that you have options available. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, contact the West Chester criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes immediately. Our experienced and knowledgeable team will gather all the details of your case and get the best possible outcome for you. Call us today at 610-431-7900 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With our offices located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve all communities of Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County.