Garza Law Firm: DUIs

Planning Ahead Can Make all the Difference

With summer just around the corner, many of us look forward to enjoying hot days and cold drinks. However, after a long day at the lake, pool, or golf course, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve had to drink. The same is true of a night out with friends. At the end of any of those activities, you may be asking yourself, “Am I okay to drive?” The answer may very well be, “No.” Unfortunately, many will get that answer from a law enforcement agency, instead, and it will come with an arrest and a charge for Driving Under the Influence or “DUI.” Of course, DUI is not an exclusively summer-time event, but in Tennessee the numbers rise sharply with the temperatures.

It should come as no surprise that, when you drink, you are no longer the best judge of your sobriety. Almost as soon as alcohol enters your body, it begins acting on your brain. Alcohol makes it harder for the prefrontal cortex to work as it should, disrupting decision-making and rational thought. In this way, alcohol prompts you to act without thinking about your actions. Alcohol also reduces the functions of the behavioral inhibitory centers in the brain. These very predictable results are why many people enjoy consuming alcohol.

Alcohol is the most-consumed drug in the United States, and in most instances, causes nothing more negative than the occasional hangover. But sometimes, the results can be devastating, even tragic. Preliminary data on impaired drivers from The Tennessee Department of Homeland Security, shows that in 2020 there were 7,272 crashes in Tennessee, resulting in 4,604 injuries, and 435 deaths. The numbers from 2020 are not unique; similar figures are available from every recorded year. What’s most disheartening about these statistics is that likely in every case, it was avoidable.

Probably the hardest thing to exercise in potential DUI situations is sound judgment. A person has to use their best judgment before deciding to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. The time to exercise that judgment is BEFORE you drink. If you know your judgment will be impaired due to drinking, (and as the data makes clear— it will be) plan on using some other transportation. Also, don’t go anywhere near your vehicle while you wait. In Tennessee, you can be charged for “being in control” of your vehicle while impaired. That means “sleeping it off,” “just keeping warm,” or just sitting in the vehicle waiting for an Uber can result in a DUI.

I’ve lost count of the number of DUI clients who wish they had planned ahead, who “wish they could go back and call an Uber.” Probably an equal number of clients are genuinely surprised at the level of alcohol in their breath or blood, because they “just didn’t feel that drunk.” The lesson that alcohol impairs judgment can be both painful and costly, and is sometimes measured in damaged vehicles, broken bones, and lost freedom. Further, the legal expense of a DUI can easily top $10,000 or even $20,000. And a DUI remains on your record for life.

But every single negative possibility of a DUI is avoidable with a basic plan. There are several good plans such as designated drivers, taxis, Uber, and Lyft, which can make a possible DUI a non-issue. But the time to plan is before you drink. In short, the time to plan is RIGHT NOW. 

So, when you finish reading this, take out your phone and navigate to whichever application allows you to install Uber and Lyft, add them to your phone, and create an account. Find the numbers for the taxi services around your location and add them to your contacts. In most cases, you can even pre-pay and maintain a balance in your account, so if you find yourself out of cash at the end of the evening, you’re still protected. 

I’ve heard it said, “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” It’s one of those sayings that causes eyes to roll, but it’s also true. DUI is one of the most common driving offenses, but easily one of the most preventable. I hope you’ll take the time to plan ahead. For your sake and for the sake of this year’s 435 possible fatalities. But if, despite having this reminder to plan ahead, you find yourself in need of a Knoxville DUI attorney, the Garza Law Firm can help. Please call or email us. We’re here for you.

550 W. Main Street, Suite 340  |  Knoxville, TN 37902  |  865-540-8300

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