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The 2017 Super Bowl certainly came with a lot of surprises, including one of the best comebacks in sports history. Hopefully, that was the only surprise you experienced on Super Bowl Sunday. However, if you were surprised when an officer pulled you over and arrested you for driving under the influence, you should know that it wasn’t just a random accident.
Police departments throughout Colorado tend to amp up their vigilance during holidays and events when people are more likely to be drinking and driving. They have dubbed these periods of heightened traffic enforcement “The Heat Is On.”
The stated goal of these types of campaigns is to reduce the risk of DUI accidents. Law enforcement agents may use extra resources and personnel to hold DUI checkpoints and stop all drivers along the area where the checkpoint is held. Alternatively, there may just be more police units out to pull over drivers suspected of driving under the influence.
Not surprisingly, they believed that the Super Bowl was going to be one of those events and beefed up patrols accordingly. One hundred law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado participated in the campaign from the Friday before the Super Bowl through the following Monday.
It’s not the first time the Super Bowl has been a target, either. Last year, 325 drivers were arrested for DUI. Statistics aren’t in just yet for this year’s campaign, but it wouldn’t be surprising for arrests to be in the hundreds yet again.
Let’s say you were arrested for DUI. You were taken into custody, given a chemical test to determined your BAC, and most likely let go after a few hours without too much trouble.
In some cases, the police will confiscate your license, but you may be allowed to keep it until you are convicted or sentenced. After you are let go, you’ll receive a court summons in the mail.
When you come to court, you will be able to plead innocent or guilty. The prosecution will present evidence in an effort to prove that you were driving under the influence (chemical tests, witness testimonies, bodycam or video recordings, and so on).
This is when you can plead your case. You and your lawyer can present evidence of your own in an effort to delegitimize the prosecution’s evidence and potentially even get your charges dropped entirely.
If the judge does not agree to drop or dismiss your charges, a trial date will be set. At this point, you will either have to agree to take a plea deal or take your chances at trial.
If you are found not guilty, there will still be some fees to worry about, but in general, you’re off the hook and free to go. However, if you are found guilty, then you will have to worry about sentencing.
Most first-time offenders will not have to go to jail, but don’t count it out entirely. Other penalties for DUI offenders may include probation, fines, community service, and license suspension. You may also have to attend an alcohol evaluation and possibly attend classes or therapy.
Several big dates for increased DUI enforcement have passed recently, including New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. That doesn’t mean “the heat is off,” though. Increased enforcement campaigns run throughout the year, with different agencies participating. Let’s look at some upcoming campaigns in 2017.
St. Patrick’s Day: Extra enforcement is planned in 2017 over this holiday. Last year, 455 DUI arrests were made from March 11 to March 18. Even though St. Patrick’s Day is typically only celebrated on the day itself (or, at most, throughout the weekend surrounding the day), these campaigns can last up to a week, or even longer.
Monthly LEAF Arrests: If you look at the list of upcoming campaigns, you will see one for every month: “LEAF March 2017,” “LEAF April 2017,” and so on. LEAF stands for the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund. This funding goes to extra enforcement, usually for a week or two during the month. It’s a good reminder that there is no time that is “safe” to drive under the influence.
Memorial Day: After St. Patrick’s Day, heightened traffic enforcement during LEAF periods are the only campaigns until Memorial Day.
Don’t wait until then. Download rideshare and BAC test apps. Decide which of your friends will be the designated driver for specific events and holidays. The best way to avoid making a drinking and driving mistake is to plan ahead.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.