It’s that time of year again when people set off to visit family and friends both near and far. Consequently, the nation’s roadways swell with vehicles – and law enforcement is ready. Your odds of coming across a DUI checkpoint, or being the subject of a traffic stop, increase markedly during the holidays. An Omaha I-80 drug stop attorney warns drivers to use caution when driving and be prepared to encounter law enforcement if you are out on the roadways for New Year’s Eve.
Holiday Traffic Facts and Figures
Traffic statistics relating to the Christmas/New Year’s holiday may surprise you. We all think of New Year’s Eve/Day as being the most dangerous time period to be on the road. It might surprise you then to learn that Memorial weekend actually tops the list of most dangerous times to drive in terms of fatal accidents. New Year’s weekend, it may surprise you to learn, was the second-least dangerous holiday, with an average of 245 fatal accidents per year between 2011 and 2015. What does make the New Year’s Eve holiday dangerous, however, is the combination of accidents and motorists who are drinking and driving. Arrests for DUI and accidents caused by a drunk driver increase dramatically from late on New Year’s Eve until early on New Year’s Day. There are 71 percent more crashes with drugs or alcohol as a contributing factor between December 31st at 6 pm and January 1st at 6 am. In just that 12 hour period, alcohol and drug-related car crashes skyrocket. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2001 and 2005, 36 fatalities occurred per day on average in the United States as a result of crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. During the Christmas period, an average of 45 fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver occurred each day and soared to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday. Compared to an average night on the weekend, between 2008 and 2012, January 1st had the highest percentage of alcohol-related deaths when compared to other days and holidays. In fact, on New Year’s Day in 2013 alone, 140 individuals were killed in crashes that were alcohol-related.
I-80 Drug Stops and Holiday Travelers
Interstate 80 is a well-known corridor for illegal drugs making their way from Central America up through Denver, then to be distributed to the east and west coasts via I-80. Not surprisingly, I-80 is also a frequent target for both random traffic stops and scheduled checkpoints. Law enforcement even stage “ruse checkpoints” along I-80 in an attempt to get drivers with drugs in the vehicle to effectively identify themselves. Law enforcement officers place warning signs on the roadway indicating that a drug checkpoint is ahead. Keep in mind, there is no such thing as a “drug checkpoint.” Drivers with contraband in the vehicle, not knowing that the sign is a ruse, take the next exit off the interstate, where police officers are waiting for them. An officer then follows the vehicle looking for a “pretext” to make a traffic stop. Once a reason presents itself, the officer makes the stop and the search for drugs takes off.
Driving on New Year’s Eve – The “Totality of the Circumstances”
The term “totality of the circumstances” is one that is frequently used in the law – and is quite applicable here. Given the increased traffic, the tendency of drivers to be drinking and driving, and the constant threat of “ruse” checkpoints and drug stops along I-80, the “totality of the circumstances” most definitely warrants care when driving over the New Year’s Eve week-end. If you do decide to drive anyway, and you find yourself stopped on the side of the roadway for a traffic stop, just take a deep breath and chalk it up to part of the holiday experience…unless, of course, the officer actually finds drugs in your vehicle. In that case, the best thing you can do is to exercise your right to remain silent and contact an experienced Omaha criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Contact an Omaha I-80 Drug Stop Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a drug-related criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, consult with an experienced Omaha criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.