How Can I Best Avoid a DUI on Labor Day Weekend?
With the summer coming to a close, football season ramping up, and COVID-19 restrictions largely lifted, many folks are looking towards this Labor Day weekend as a chance to get together with friends and family. In Spokane, that means plenty of folks traveling downtown to take part in our beloved Pig Out In The Park!
Often, the choice to get together with friends leads to the choice to drink, which sometimes leads to the dangerous decision to drive afterward. So if you plan to drink with friends this holiday weekend, keep these tips in mind so that you don't end up putting yourself or others at risk.
1. The best way to avoid a DUI is to ensure you have a sober driver. Uber, Lyft, or other taxi services are abundant. And all of them are cheaper than the fees associated with a DUI!
2. Pick a designated driver, and make sure the designated driver stays true to their word. If you're out at the bars, remember that most bartenders will give the "DD" free soft drinks all night to encourage safe driving so they can still be a part of the crowd.
3. Take a Lime Scooter. In Washington State, the law isn't clear about whether or not a person riding a Lime scooter can get a DUI, but it seems to indicate that those kinds of scooters are not what the DUI statutes prohibit intoxicated folks from operating. Specifically in Spokane, the Police Department has indicated they will not arrest folks for DUI if they are on a Lime Scooter. Still, you could injure yourself or others, so be careful!
4. Have food, non-alcoholic drinks, and time in between your drinks. Not only will this slow the absorption of alcohol into your system, but it will help your body have extra time to process the alcohol that's already there. Remember that the only thing that gets alcohol out of your system is time, so the slower you drink, the lower your BAC stays.
5. Be aware of how much alcohol you're ingesting. Many folks think that they're "ok" to drive if they've only had two drinks. But what many don't account for is that a "drink" is a defined term, which consists of:
- 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol;
- 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol; or
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol.
So, if you're drinking at a microbrewery and you're having a 22-ounce pour of their new Triple IPA which is 11% alcohol, that one pour is actually closer to four drinks, putting you in danger of a DUI after just one order. The same is true for any punches or mixed drinks: if it's more than just one shot in your drink, you're more likely to end up in the clink.
6. Use a personal alcohol breath tester. Having a device that gives you a rough estimate of your breath alcohol content can give you an idea of where you're at in terms of alcohol. But remember, measuring breath alcohol is not exact, and these personal devices are even less accurate than those used by the police, which while calibrated often, have so many issues that they are generally excluded from trial in Washington State. So don't rely on them too heavily, and try to stay well below the legal limit.
7. Follow all traffic laws to the letter. A rolling stop through a stop sign or going 5 miles an hour over the speed limit can be enough for a ticket at any time, but after you've drank any alcohol, they can form the basis to potentially arrest you for DUI. Don't give officers any reason to stop you. That goes for your vehicle as well: any burnt burnt-outs or expired registration tabs give police all the reason they need to pull you over.
8. Finally, remember that even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be charged with DUI! Washington State law includes what is commonly called the "affected by" prong: if the State can prove that you were operating a vehicle "while under the influence of or affected by" alcohol or drugs, then you can be convicted of DUI regardless of what your BAC measured.
More importantly, remember that DUIs and DUI accidents cause thousands of needless deaths every year: roughly one death every 45 minutes. So please be safe this holiday weekend, for yourself and others!