For many people, the idea of a vacation is inseparable from the idea of drinking. When people drink on vacation, legal dangers and responsibilities are probably the last thing on their minds. However, if you don’t pay attention and plan accordingly, your vacation – and your life – could be ruined by a single conviction for driving under the influence (DUI).
Many states across the US are most American’s spring break headquarters and many are major destinations for revellers from all over the globe. Many people in Florida on vacation will drink for example. However, not many know of the state’s strict DUI laws. Anyone in Florida under 21 cannot have a blood alcohol level of .02, which, for most people, is a single drink. For people over 21, the blood alcohol cutoff is .08, which is not very forgiving.
The penalties for DUI in any state should make even the casual drinker take notice. Depending on the circumstances of the DUI, penalties include some combination of a fine, community service, imprisonment, probation, and surrender of your driver’s license. According to our Virginia criminal lawyer, the average DUI conviction results in $8,000 worth of total costs, to say nothing of the potential jail time.
What to Do in Case of DUI
The first rule is: Don’t ignore your violation. Even if you are badly drunk, you will be released from jail (unless you committed a more serious crime while DUI) and try to avoid the temptation to flee back home. After all, you might think, what does a DUI charge mean if you’re going back to Seattle? In addition to being ethically flawed, this kind of decision will get you into trouble. The Interstate Drivers License Compact allows 45 states to share drivers’ records. If you try to escape your DUI by going home, the Interstate Drivers License Compact will follow you and allow your home state to levy a penalty on you for DUI.
In a situation of this kind, there’s no replacement for a lawyer. In all states, DUI penalties get progressively worse if you’ve already had a conviction. If you’re a vacation-goer who slipped up once, you’ll be in a better position than a habitual offender, but only if you have a lawyer who can guide you through the vagaries of the system. Our Virginia criminal lawyer also advises hiring a DUI attorney in any major city within the state in which you were charged to help you understand the implications of dual-state fines and penalties and also plead your case.
If You Live Outside the USA
Fleeing DUI or any kind of charges and returning to your home country is not a good idea. Although it may seem you have ‘got away with it’ the moment you leave a warrant will be issued for your arrest. The second you touch down on US soil it will be activated and you will be arrested. There can be further more complicated, implications if a more serious crime has been committed. It is never a good option to leave such things unresolved and the best advice is to contact an attorney who practises within the state in which you were arrested for advice.
With a little planning ahead, you can drink responsibly whilst on vacation. If you’re with friends or relatives, stick to the designated driver system. Even if you’re drinking alone, the states are full of taxis. If you anticipate getting seriously drunk and don’t know if you can count on a designated driver or remember to take a taxi, try to limit yourself to the hotel in which you’re staying. There’s no reason you can’t have fun safely.
This article was written by Georgina Clatworthy, a long time legal writer and former editor of a well respected legal blog. She is now a contributing writer for The Wilson Law Firm, a Virginia criminal lawyer group of experts – helping those facing charges of DUI and all the ramifications they can bring.