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Not surprisingly, DUI arrests and traffic accidents in the Los Angeles area are always higher during holidays. People may have time off of work or school and more people will be out drinking and celebrating during holidays. There may be parties and family get-togethers where alcohol is consumed. In addition, many people who do not drink regularly may have too many drinks during the holidays and are subsequently pulled over while driving home.
Traditionally, the three big holidays for DUI arrests and accidents are New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. New Year’s Eve is the holiday with the most DUI arrests. The Fourth of July has the most DUI accidents and is the deadliest day in regards to DUI collisions according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). Thanksgiving and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving have become holidays during which there are numerous DUI arrests. In addition to drinking that may occur during the Thanksgiving meal, many young people may be home from college and may go out with groups of friends. Anytime there is a three or four day weekend, there will be a spike in the number of DUI arrests and DUI collisions as more impaired drivers are on the road.
There is also an increase in DUI incidents on days that are not traditionally recognized as holidays. Some of the deadliest days for DUI collisions occur around occasions such as Super Bowl Sunday or on other days that people may be drinking, like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo. The NHTSA has determined that a DUI collision killed someone in the United States every 51 minutes on St. Patrick’s Day and fatal DUI collisions accounted for 32% of all fatalities occurring on that day.
Many drivers falsely believe that law enforcement agencies are working with a skeleton crew during holidays and most officers are at home with their families. In fact, the opposite is true and law enforcement agencies will increase the amount of officers on DUI patrols during holiday periods. These agencies recognize that there is a sharp spike in DUI incidents that occur during holidays and specifically assign more patrol officers to deter and detect DUI drivers.
In addition, law enforcement agencies in California will also conduct more DUI checkpoint operations during holiday periods. These checkpoints allow officers to stop all vehicles passing through a specific location and briefly investigate the drivers. If the officer suspects that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the driver will be detained for further investigation and may ultimately be arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Usually an officer must have reasonable cause to pull over a vehicle, such as a traffic violation or equipment violation that is observed. However, the California Supreme Court has held that DUI checkpoints, which allow officers to stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint, are constitutionally valid. Law enforcement agencies have increasingly relied on DUI checkpoints, especially during holiday periods that have historically had a higher rate of DUI incidents and collisions.