The holidays are right around the corner and along with all the cheer and stress that comes with the season are law enforcement agencies coming out in droves in search of suspected drunk drivers. Make no mistake, it is hunting season. Law enforcement agencies will be partnering with one another, and also with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, to launch several DUI task force operations that will result in thousands of traffic stops and arrests. Here are some things that you need to know as a driver during these saturated enforcement task force seasons.
Don’t Drive Impaired—Especially During the Holiday Season.
This is just one more reason to remember that if you have too much to drink, just call a ride share service like Uber or Lyft. It’s just not worth it to drive drunk, and frankly, in this day and age, there are no excuses. That said, given the saturated style DUI enforcement that occurs during the holidays, this time of year has the potential to be the peak times for false accusations and over charging. This is due to pressure from agencies like the Governor’s office to effectuate stops, make arrests and report numbers back.
What Does Saturated Enforcement Look Like?
Generally, police stick to patrolling their respective cities and stop folks who have committed traffic violations. But during the holidays, jurisdictional lines disappear and every driver on the road at night looks like an impaired driver. Simple and regular driving actions like tapping your brakes because you’re looking for the right road to turn onto or signaling left and then continuing straight at an intersection because you aren’t familiar with the area will be taken as clues of impairment and reasons to pull you over—even though you haven’t broken the law. If you are on the road at night during a task force, your chances of being stopped by police are high. There is no room for error, even if it is harmless error.
You may notice that even though you are in Tempe, a Scottsdale officer has pulled you over. Or even though you are in Phoenix, a Peoria officer stopped you. Some things that you may not notice right away are that any interaction you have with the police will be interpreted as a “sign of alcohol impairment.” If you are nervous and shaky or a little scrambled with your words—sign of impairment. If you are tired from a long night of helping mom with prepping for Thanksgiving and your eyes are watery—sign of impairment. If you accidentally say that you were going to or from the wrong direction—sign of impairment. Accidentally give the officer the old expired registration that you forgot to take out of your glove box instead of the updated one? They’ll say that’s a sign of impairment. You get the gist.
When and Where are the Task Forces?
Task force periods actually go throughout the entire year and vary from area to area. For example, task forces are regularly run during:
- Fourth of July
- Cinco de Mayo
- Memorial Day
- Labor Day
- Large sporting events or concerts
- Other common holidays
However, the biggest task force period of the year which every law enforcement agency in Arizona will be a part of usually starts on Thanksgiving weekend and runs through the rest of the year. And they are EVERYWHERE. There are so many DUI investigations throughout the state during this holiday task force season that they don’t have room to process people in the jails like usual. Instead, they set up DUI vans and trailers throughout the state and fill them with officers and volunteers. That’s right, during task force seasons, the person investigating you or taking your breath sample may not even be a police officer!
What Do I Do if Stopped During a Task Force?
As mentioned before, police officers are literally hunting for DUI suspects during the holiday task force. Anything you do that is out of the ordinary will be taken as suspected DUI impairment.
That said, if you are stopped during a DUI task force, know your rights and use them! Here are some pro tips to keep in mind:
- Do not answer questions when law enforcement asks them of you besides identifying yourself and providing license, insurance and registration. You are not required to tell law enforcement where you are going, where you are coming from, what you were doing before, or anything else of that sort.
- Make no admissions and immediately ask for a PRIVATE phone call with your attorney. Most law enforcement will let you use your cell phone to call your lawyer. Instead of frantically Googling an attorney when you least expect it, save my cell number in your phone RIGHT NOW –> Attorney Steven Scharboneau (480) 363-0090.
- While the law says that you are legally required to do the field sobriety tests, police cannot force you to do the tests and there are literally no consequences for not doing them. Field sobriety tests will always be used against you no matter how good or bad you think you did on them.
- Do not blow in the handheld portable breath test on the roadside. IMPORTANT – this is different than the testing at the station or van. A good rule of thumb is to not consent to anything until you talk to an attorney.
How Can I Defend Against a Task Force DUI?
Imagine a time where you are doing five times the work you usually do and need to do it in the same amount of time to do it. Imagine you have so much work that you hire people that aren’t licensed in your field to get the work done. Now imagine that you have to report your numbers to the Governor’s office. This is what happens during task force seasons.
Mistakes get made under these conditions. It’s the old adage, “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” With this in mind, people are falsely arrested for DUI during holiday task force season. Constitutional rights are violated during holiday task force season. Police reports are embellished during holiday task force season. Mistakes are made during holiday task force season—lots of mistakes.
If you are arrested for a DUI during a holiday task force (or any other time) call Attorney Steven Scharboneau immediately for a free case evaluation. I will spend the time with you to learn about what happened in your specific case and talk to you about the potential possibilities. We can discuss your options and devise a starting strategy for no charge at all.
Do not drive impaired this holiday season (or ever). But if you are ever accused of a DUI call or text me right away at (480) 363-0090