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Holiday DUI enforcement season starts Dec 11

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office is partnering with the highway patrol and local police departments throughout the state for a campaign to reduce impaired driving over the holiday season. The agencies plan additional DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols during the entire holiday season.

The campaign, which extends from Dec. 11 through Jan. 1, is centered around the concept "Booze It and Lose It," which refers to losing your driver's license for an impaired driving offense.

Indeed, you can lose your Tennessee driver's license for a year after a single drunk-driving offense, including refusing to submit to a breath or blood test. The driver's license suspension gets longer with each additional offense, with a revocation of eight years after a fourth or subsequent offense. You could also get an extended license revocation if you are impaired and cause an accident.

Of course, that's not the only penalty. Even a first offense of DUI could result in up to 11 months, 29 days behind bars, a fine of up to $1,500, mandatory drug and alcohol assessment and possibly treatment, required restitution, an ignition interlock device installed on your car at your expense, and a variety of others including bail, court costs, reinstatement fees and mandatory high-risk insurance.

Nobody wants to get a DUI for the holidays

The reason law enforcement focuses on drunk driving during the holiday season is that it is all-too-common for people to drive drunk in the days and weeks leading up to the winter holidays. This year, Hanukah and Kwanzaa fall right around Christmas, making it an especially festive year. The packed holiday season also means that a greater number of people will be invited, or even pressured, to drink.

To avoid being arrested, it's crucial to make a plan for a safe ride home whenever you'll be drinking. You may think you can drink a limited, "safe" amount of alcohol. This may be true in theory, but you just don't know the strength of the drinks you may be offered. You could easily be served more alcohol than you anticipate, and that can affect your judgment.

The safest alternative, therefore, is not to drive if you've had anything to drink. If you know you will be drinking, it's best to arrange for a sober driver, taxi or car hailing service, or public transportation to get you home.

That said, a lot of people end up driving while impaired. If you are arrested, don't let panic take over. Contact an experienced defense attorney for help.

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