Legal Tips for Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is one of the biggest days of the year outside of St. Patrick's Day and New Year's Eve that people go out on the town and celebrate with friends and family. The celebration usually entails having a margarita or two or three for some people. There should be no dispute that one way to ruin your celebration is to be arrested by law enforcement. It is fair to say that most of us our planning on having a drink for the holiday but there are some things we can do to make sure we safely celebrate. First off, we can stay at home to celebrate; yes, that isn't as fun because we don't have the amped environment to celebrate in but it is tough to encounter law enforcement while in the comfort of your own home. Second, download the UBER app onto your phone; should you be out and drink too much, this is a cheap and easy way to get home. Third, you can take a designated driver with you to celebrate. Now, it may not be too fun for them but at least you'll get home safely (or you should). Lastly, you can call a taxi; they are not cheap but at least they are cheaper than being stopped by law enforcement and being charged with an OWI. 

In regard to OWIs and Cinco de Mayo, police officers know a large majority of people under fifty (50) years-old will be having a couple of drinks out on the town this day. It is fair to say that officers will be on the look-out for drunk drivers on Cinco de Mayo. With this said, even if you have only one drink you may be asked by law enforcement to step out of your vehicle and perform field sobriety tests. Now assuming you only had only one margarita at the bar, you should make note that you do not know how many shots were mixed into your margarita. Although, you may be under the legal limit and obeying the laws of the road you may not perform well on the field sobriety test (I even fail the tests when I am sober). Simply put, I would not recommend taking the field sobriety test. After given the option of performing field sobriety tests, the officer will give you the option to take a preliminary breath test (PBT). The PBT is not admissible in court but it gives the officer a good idea if you are intoxicated (or close to intoxicated). Even if you blow under the .08 (legal limit in Iowa) on the PBT, the officer will likely still arrest you if you are close to the .08 mark and bring you to the police station to be tested. This is because blood alcohol content (BAC) may still be on the rise. For example, if you just finished your drink and left the bar, your BAC will still be on the rise. You usually need a good hour before you can confidently assume your BAC is on the decrease. Generally speaking, once you are on the decrease your BAC falls about .01-.025 BAC per hour depending on your size, weight, what you just ate, etc. . . 

Lastly, the most important thing you can do if you are stopped by law enforcement and accused of an OWI is call an OWI defense attorney. . .It is free to just speak with them (at least it is at my firm) prior to deciding how to proceed with the police officer at the police station. It has made the difference for some people who have called me while they were at the police station. Simply put, call an OWI defense lawyer. You can contact the Feld Law Firm at 515-802-7676.

Aside from OWI's, there are some people who decide to celebrate differently than by drinking. This usually entails smoking marijuana. Marijuana has a distinct smell depending on the type of marijuana. Regardless, it is easily detectable. If an officer smells marijuana, he'll usually ask if anyone has any marijuana on them and have they been using. It needs to be importantly noted that in Iowa, it is not illegal to smell like marijuana. Now if you are in a car and the officer smells it, he is allowed to search the vehicle for marijuana. Where it becomes tricky is when he asks if he can search the person. Generally speaking, the officers will need a warrant to search the person for drugs unless the person consents to the search. It should be mentioned that if you are pulled over in your car and it smells of marijuana, the officer can request that you perform field sobriety tests for an OWI. This is because one can be convicted of an OWI while any amount of controlled substance is in the person's system while they are operating a motor-vehicle. Generally, the officer will not charge this unless the person is being uncooperative or appears to be out of it. If this is the case and you are requested to perform field sobriety tests, make sure you contact an attorney at the police station before performing any urine test for the officer.

I hope everyone has a fun-filled Cinco de Mayo and celebrates safely! If you have any questions or would like to schedule a free consultation, on any matter, do not hesitate to contact the Feld Law Firm. A defense attorney would be happy to point you in the right direction. The Feld Law Firm is located at 1200 Valley West Drive, Ste. 208 in West Des Moines, Iowa.