Jersey Shore Personal Injury and Employment Specialists

3 ways happy hours increase the risk of a DWI charge

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2023 | DWI |

Some people in New Jersey get arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses because of a car crash. Others get arrested during traffic stops. Police officers may spot warning signs of impairment or other traffic law violations that prompt them to stop someone.

The way that someone acts and their answers to police questions might then justify an officer’s request to conduct a field sobriety test or administer a chemical breath test. One of the situations that could lead to DWI charges in New Jersey involves a traffic stop after someone leaves happy hour.

Why would a drink after work put someone at heightened risk of DUI prosecution?

A potential lack of familiarity with the bartender

Most people know their limits when enjoying a few drinks. They understand that they can have one or two drinks based on their sex, alcohol tolerance and weight without going over the legal limit. However, those who stop off for a discount drink during happy hour could consume more alcohol than they expect. Some bartenders will offer heavy pours as a way to solicit better tips. There are also establishments that offer larger servings in deceptive-looking glasses. People could have twice as much alcohol as they expect in their bloodstream if a bartender is very generous or they underestimate the serving size.

Drinking on an empty stomach

Many people stopping off at happy hour have gone some time without any food. They could end up more strongly feeling the effects of the alcohol that they consume and they would if they drink with a meal. Someone stopping on the way home may not have eaten since lunch. Especially if someone skipped lunch, a single drink might be enough to compromise their driving ability.

Drinking too quickly

Often, those stopping for a drink at happy hour need to be home or somewhere else in the immediate future. They may feel pressured to drink as quickly as possible and then leave shortly after finishing their beverage. Unfortunately, the rapid consumption of alcohol could increase someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) more than they anticipate, and their BAC might continue rising even after they leave the establishment.

Recognizing factors that increase the risk of a New Jersey DWI charge, including a choice to stop at happy hour on the way home, may help people avoid drunk driving charges. With that said, it is surprisingly easy to make a mistake in this regard. Seeking legal guidance immediately is generally the best way to respond to a misstep ending in an arrest.