This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on Sunday, March 17, and major festivities will last through the weekend at many popular Las Vegas destinations, including Mandalay Place, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Treasure Island, the MGM Grand, and other locations across the city. When the green beer is flowing, alcohol-related incidents always experience an uptick during these celebrations, especially in an entertainment-rich city like Las Vegas where open containers are allowed on the Strip, but not in a vehicle.
There are many reasons to be cautious during this year’s celebration. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that over 700 people were killed nationwide due to accidents involving drunk drivers on St. Patrick’s Day from 2006 to 2010. This figure makes up 2/5 of all deaths from automobile crashes during the same period. It is important to remember, if you plan on going out drinking or celebrating for St. Patrick’s Day that you take the appropriate precautions to avoid being another statistic. Get a designated driver. Take a cab. Stay at one of the fabulous resorts Las Vegas has to offer.
You can expect to see an increased presence of law enforcement officers during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend throughout Clark County, NV, in an effort to minimize accidents. This includes patrols from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, North Las Vegas Police Department, Henderson Police Department, and the Nevada Highway Patrol. Law enforcement officials will be on the watch for a number of signals that supposedly indicate a driver’s state of sobriety, such as erratic driving and failure to obey traffic signals. If you drink and drive, the likelihood that you will be arrested is significant.
It’s important to keep in mind that law enforcement officers must have a reason to pull a driver over in the first place, search the vehicle, or make an arrest. This is known as probable cause and is a standard set forth by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. A Las Vegas defense attorney can use any lack of probable cause in defending clients who have been charged with DUI.
Once a police officer pulls the suspected drunk driver over, he or she will be on the lookout for more signs of intoxication. This includes the:
- Presence of open containers in the vehicle
- Smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath
- Slurred speech
- Pupil enlargement or constriction
- Inability to follow specific directions
- Direct admission of guilt by the driver
If the law enforcement officer has confirmed suspicions of the driver’s intoxication, they may ask the driver to complete a field sobriety test. The accuracy of these tests is, at best, highly questionable, especially considering the police officer’s final, subjective decision of pass or fail. Should the driver refuse to take the field sobriety test or fail the test altogether, the officer may request additional chemical testing for alcohol content level. This is most commonly done through a breath, blood, or urine test.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it’s important to remember the important rights laid out in the Miranda Warning that officers are required to read to suspects prior being questioned. Courts have determined that questioning in a routine traffic stop does not necessarily trigger the requirement that Miranda be read. Whether Miranda is read to you or not you still have the ability to exercise your constitutional rights: the right to remain silent, the right not to be compelled to be a witness against yourself, and the right to due process.
- You do have the right to remain silent. In high stress situations, it is entirely possible to inadvertently provide inaccurate or conflicting information in response to an officer’s questions. When anything you say can be used against you later in court, it’s important to remember this at all times.
- You have the right to consult with an attorney. However, in DUI arrests the Courts have determined that the Officers do not need to allow you to speak with an attorney before arrest or blood alcohol testing. This is where knowing your right to remain silent is your best option. Do not give officers any information that will be used against you. Be cordial and nice, follow their directions, but do not say anything.
The consequences for a DUI conviction in Nevada can be severe. Not only will drunk drivers face severe jail time and / or fines, they also will have to deal with other real world consequences. A criminal record can place a roadblock on many future opportunities in employment as well. This is why it’s critical to enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day festivities safely and always remember your rights.