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Happy Holidays, Arizona!

The holidays are beginning to wind down and the New Year quickly approaches. But that joyful feeling is still lingering in the air. As you celebrate the season and spend time with family and friends, remember that police DUI task forces are always amped up during this time of year. The Arizona Department of Public Safety’s “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed” campaign continues in full swing. Both nationwide and here in Arizona, DUI checkpoints continue through the upcoming New Years’ celebrations, which unofficially begin this weekend. Last year in 2011, over 2,800 DUI arrests were made over the holiday season. This year saw similar strict crackdown efforts, but the total numbers for this season will be up tomorrow.

If you or a friend happens to be pulled over, take the time to refresh yourself on your rights both as a passenger and as a driver. The Fifth Amendment protects you against self-incrimination. This means that you do not have to answer questions that you aren’t comfortable answering. Once you invoke this right, it must be honored. Second, do not perform any sobriety tests. Here in Arizona, you are not legally required to perform these tests (which include HGN, walk and turn, one-leg stand, and so on). Third, under the Sixth Amendment, you are entitled to legal counsel when you request it. Saying that you wish to speak to your attorney before answering questions or proceeding with ongoing DUI investigation is a fundamental right, and must also be honored. Being pulled over can be a very stressful event, but you have rights that exist to protect you. Become familiar with them, and use them when appropriate.

Last, keep in mind again that DUI crackdowns increase around the holidays for a reason. Enjoy holiday celebrations with loved ones, but always be sure to plan ahead. If you feel as if you’ve had a little too much holiday cheer, always make sure that you have a place to stay, or a safe way to get home. Don’t take a risk and drive, especially with the seasonal increase in police DUI task forces.  Although the work week is not yet over, New Year’s Eve celebrations are rapidly approaching and plans are being made. Don’t begin the year 2013 with an unwanted DUI charge. Instead, designate a reliable and sober driver, or program the number for a cab into your smartphone before the night begins. Happy Holidays!

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