Driving Home From Mardi Gras? Advice From an Attorney

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Mardi Gras season also means DUI season, and the police could be tailing your car next. Sure, you only had a few beers. Your blood alcohol content is surely below the legal limit. But could that still portend trouble if Officer Teetotaler pulls you over? It's a situation fraught with peril.

So for those who do get pulled over this weekend, local attorney Matthew Cook has advice: Do not blow! If you feel like you may be a tad tipsy when the cop whips out his breathalyzer, going a year with a suspended license (which is usually the punishment for refusing to blow) is better than a DUI arrest on your record, he says.

Also, if a cop wants to give you a second road test, decline it -- and don't rule out blaming it on a medical condition, says Cook.

"I'm not really advocating for someone to lie, but to try and be creative," Cook tells Daily RFT.

"If a second test is administered, it's almost a given he's going to arrest you," says Cook. "Performing multiple tests rarely exonerates anyone, but only helps the cop build a case against you." He also advises you to avoid answering cops' questions, which are often "trick questions," he says.

Cook believes too many relatively sober folks to get arrested due to abnormal metabolic functions. "I've seen people blow a .02 and get charged," says Cook. (The legal limit is .08 blood alcohol content, but many states allow drivers to be charged if, in the opinion of the officer on the scene, the person is "impaired to the slightest degree." That means, technically, you could have a single beer and still face charges.) Breathalyzers, too, are notoriously unreliable, which is why some prosecutors now require blood tests in addition before they'll charge a driver. Here's a list of glitches that come along with breathalyzers.

That said, we know that some of you will be drinking more than just one (or even three) beers tomorrow. Why risk it? Call a cab and keep it safe for everyone. Happy Mardi Gras!