Hart of the Issue: Drink Drank, Drunk Tank 

By John M. Hart, III, Esq. 

March is a big month of celebration, so let’s start this issue off with a limerick. 

It’s that time of year when the streets get painted,
New dashes of green to cover the previous year’s fainted.
The bars are all stocked,
Corned beef in the crock,
But a DUI would cause the fest to be tainted.

With March comes green… green grass, green trees, green bushes, green flowers, (or at least historically, but who knows what the weather has in store for us anymore).  But one tradition in March that guarantees us the green is St. Patrick’s Day.  

There’s no denying that our community is rich with diversity. It’s what makes us unique and exceptional. And the Irish heritage in our region is just one of various cultures that is embraced with pride and celebration.  

This is clearly exhibited by simply checking our calendars. We don’t just celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  We stretch it out and throw parades and dinners.  We don our best green attire, march in our parades, get back to the basics of meat and potatoes, and, typically, consume plenty of alcohol.  However, while these fests are meant to be a celebration, they can also lead to dangerous behavior on the roads, such as driving under the influence (DUI).

We all like a good time during holidays, especially in March.  Well, most of us do at least…  I guess I can’t truly speak for everyone. But I can definitely vouch for the majority of us. I see this in the crowds that come out in March to watch people march. I see droves of diners assemble for dinners.  I see the masses attend masses. And I see piles of people pour out of the pubs. 

But while our March traditions are no doubt a good time, we have to be aware of the critical responsibilities that come with consuming alcohol. We all know the line… drink responsibly.  This is crucial. Because on St. Patrick’s Day, like other holidays, the number of DUI arrests and incidents tends to increase due to the high consumption of alcohol in the days before and after the big event.

DUI is a serious problem that can result in severe consequences, including fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges, or even worse, serious bodily injury or death.  Additionally, if you’re charged, you better plan on spending the night in the proverbial drunk tank.  

Here in PA, and presumably most jurisdictions across the US, the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08 percent.  But here’s the rub–that is different for each and every one of us. That could mean one drink for someone within an hour. It could mean three drinks within 30 minutes for a bigger brute such as myself. There are too many variables that go into that equation. 

And blood alcohol isn’t the only metric to gauge whether someone is driving under the influence.  If you are suspected of driving while impaired, a police officer can rely on his training and experience to detect signs of impairment. This includes observing your speech, your breath, your eyes, and your gait.  Additionally, an officer can request that you perform a Standardized Field Sobriety Test.  I’m sure many of you are familiar with this.  There are tons of videos out there with examples of this test, many of which are rather comical. (Check out drunk dancing cowboy DUI” online if you need a laugh.) 

And then there’s the blood test.  Do you volunteer for it?  Do you refuse? Do you refuse every test just mentioned above? Each decision you make will have various outcomes. And if you are actually intoxicated, do you really want to be making these types of decisions on the fly when the consequences are so severe?

The ramifications of a DUI can be far-reaching and long-lasting. In addition to the legal repercussions, a DUI can have a negative impact on one’s personal and professional life. A DUI conviction can result in a criminal record, which can make it difficult to find employment and housing in the future. It can also lead to higher insurance rates and increased financial strain.

The good news is that these decisions are extremely avoidable. Don’t take the chance. Don’t try to calculate your consumption.  

To avoid the dangers of DUI, it’s important to make responsible choices when celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and plan ahead. If you plan on drinking, designate a sober driver, or make arrangements for alternative transportation, such as a taxi, ride-sharing service, or public transportation. 

Heck, if on the off chance the weather is nice like it used to be in March, take a nice walk home. It may help clear your head.  It’s also important to pace yourself and drink plenty of water to avoid becoming too impaired in the first place. 

So please plan your celebration ahead of time. When you think about it, nothing should come as a surprise. St. Patrick’s Day is one of those easy holidays that is literally on the same calendar day each year, March 17th

But if you do end up in trouble or someone you know fails to read this article and makes a mistake by getting behind the wheel during these March festivities, remember that being charged with DUI is a serious matter that can have a significant impact on someone’s life. Given the severity of the consequences, it is essential to take the matter seriously and seek the help of an experienced DUI attorney. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case and can help you avoid the most drastic ramifications of a DUI conviction. 

Prior to representing individuals charged with DUIs, I prosecuted them.  While serving as an assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County I was a member of the DUI unit where I personally handled thousands of DUI cases. This background gives me a deep understanding of the strategies used by the prosecution and a comprehensive understanding of the laws and regulations related to DUI cases. 

Should you find yourself in need of a DUI defense attorney, remember to be smart, call Hart.

Our team’s knowledge of the legal system and the prosecution’s strategies, along with their negotiation skills, can be invaluable in achieving the best possible outcome in a DUI defense.

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