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Don’t Ring in the New Year Behind Bars

Thanksgiving and turkey.

Fat Tuesday and beads.

Groundhog Day and top hats.

New Year’s and booze.

It’s hard to have one without the other. Well aware of this, law enforcement officers across the country will be stepping up their game to nab folks they suspect of driving while under the influence. With a “better safe than sorry” attitude, this means they’re more likely to pull over people who may not have even had a drink the entire night. (Drive carefully!)

You can’t afford a DWI conviction. The financial and vocational costs are way too high.

What is the Cost of a DWI

Not that there’s ever a good time for a DWI, but since holiday gifts probably chewed a big bite out of your budget this month, you really can’t afford a DWI in January.

Think you’re safe because you’re not driving drunk? Keep in mind, open container violations can cost a minimum of $500, and an open container in conjunction with a DWI is a Class B misdemeanor with a minimum of six days in jail.

If you are caught drinking and driving, the first offense will net you:

  • A $2000 fine
  • Between three and 180 days in jail
  • A license suspension for up to two years
  • An annual surcharge of up to $2000 for three years in order to keep your license
  • Enrollment in an alcohol prevention program
  • The possibility of an ignition interlock device getting installed in your vehicle

These penalties are just for a first offense! Those of you with a DWI or a DUI already on your record, the costs only go up from there. Tread lightly.

Plus, a DWI or a DUI conviction can cause problems with your future job prospects. And the more you rack up, the less likely you are to land certain positions in certain industries. Should you wind up in felony territory? Good luck signing a lease or owning a weapon! So the costs affect way more than just your finances. It’s a good idea to know how to avoid a conviction in order to protect your future.

How To Be on the Lookout for Police

Even though no refusal is the norm in Harris County these days, they’ll still be ramping up security on New Year’s Eve. Expect more checkpoints in the City of Houston as well as Galveston and some other outerlying areas, and expect them to pull you over for anything that may seem suspicious. This is what they’ll be looking for:

  • Headlights are off
  • License plate light is out
  • Speeding
  • Weaving
  • Wide turns
  • Failing to signal lane changes
  • Tail lights out
  • Going the wrong way down a one-way street
  • Stopping past designated stopping points
  • Pulling over to the side of the road to text or check on a passenger

All of these mistakes and oversights can be made by perfectly sober drivers, especially in a city as sprawling and confusing to maneuver as Houston. And exhausted driving can sometimes resemble drunk driving, so the increased patrol might still target you if you’re not at your most attentive. Your best bet is to err on the side of safety.

How to Prevent a DWI on New Years

It’s cheaper to just avoid getting pulled over on the suspicion of a DWI than it is to call me. Schedule a cab. Choose a designated driver. Be the designated driver. Starting the new year in the slammer sets a pretty bad tone for the rest of the year. You should enjoy the festivities and the morning after, especially since you’ll be back at work in a couple more days.

If you’re on a tight budget, AAA runs the Tipsy Tow service every New Year’s and Fourth of July. It’s a free tow up to ten miles, available to members and non-members alike who are concerned about getting home safely after the festivities wind down.

Give Us a Call

If you do wind up in trouble with a DWI or DUI, Thiessen is here to defend you. Schedule a free consultation with us and we’ll let you know what we can do to make sure you aren’t singing “Auld Lang Syne” in a smelly downtown cell.

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