With family gatherings and festivities coming up, it might be easy to let your guard down and get extra merry with alcoholic drinks.
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is a common reason why people call our office about a loved one who is detained in jail. But it is a much bigger problem for immigrant detainees, as things immediately start to get complicated the moment they are behind bars. They may be held longer than expected and transferred to ICE custody while they sort out their immigration status.
And while most American citizens worry about losing their driver’s licenses or having a stain on their records, immigrants who are arrested for DWI or DUI face the possibility of an even worse dilemma: deportation.
So, how do you avoid these consequences and stay on the nice list this year?
#1 Don’t Drink and Drive
Okay, we get it. No one plans on driving impaired and causing problems on the roads. But the fact that alcohol-impaired deaths increase by 40% during winter holidays should be a sobering reminder to all drivers. That is why for those who plan on drinking, please…
#2 Drink Responsibly
No, this does not mean eating a large greasy pizza before drinking or sucking on enough mints to clean out a gas station’s supply. Drinking responsibly means HAVING A PLAN—which does not include you behind the wheel. Here’s a quick list of alternatives:
- Have a designated driver. Don’t forget to return the favor next time.
- Leave your car keys at home. That’s really knowing yourself. But hey, it works!
- Call an Uber, Lyft, or taxi (or someone you know, no matter how annoying they are).
- Plan to stay the night. Don’t forget to hydrate in the morning and wash your stinky mouth!
- Use public transportation. Buses, subways, and ferries (stay in the center of the boat).
- Walk. You can easily burn off those calories from that large pepperoni slice. Win-win.
#3 Know Your Rights
Law enforcement will be out and about patrolling the streets. The tiniest infraction could result in getting pulled over. Here are some general tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure your vehicle’s registration is current and street-legal. Fix your broken taillights or check for any damage that could attract the attention of the police.
- Obey traffic laws. With more police activity, more eyes will be watching to ensure you are not speeding or running red lights.
- Be respectful. If you are stopped, stay calm and comply with the officer’s basic requests for identification, registration, and insurance papers.
- If you do not have legal status, do not give false information about your identity. Giving false identification is a separate crime that could affect your immigration status.
- Remember, you have the right to remain silent, especially if the officer is pressing you about your immigration papers or nationality. Any information you provide could be used later against you in deportation proceedings.
- Check your state laws. If you are stopped, don’t take a field sobriety or coordination test if you aren’t legally required to do so. You could still fail whether you drink or not, and it can be used as evidence against you in court.
- Activate Lawpilot Guardian as soon as you are pulled over. You’ll instantly begin recording the audio of the situation, and an alert will be sent to your lawyer and loved ones with your location. The audio recording could be reviewed by your attorney to help you in court.
A criminal conviction could ruin your chances of living and working in the United States. So make sure you take the time to plan. That way, you can make it home in time to sing Jingle Bells instead of jingling chain cuffs.