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How bad circumstances can lead to a Virginia DUI arrest

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2021 | Drunk Driving

Some people arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Virginia cause crashes or drive in obviously unsafe ways prior to their arrest. Police officers can and do identify drunk and drugged drivers and arrest them to help make the roads a little safer for the public.

However, there are also numerous innocent people who get arrested and accused of impaired driving when they weren’t actually drunk. Sometimes, being in the wrong place at the wrong time could lead to an unfair arrest for DUI charges.

Why do circumstances sometimes influence your chances of DUI charges?

The Law of the Instrument and confirmation bias

When people have a specific tool or skill set, they tend to try to apply those available resources to any issues that they encounter. Psychologists have termed this common behavior the Law of the Instrument. There is a famous saying that when a person has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. People tend to look for solutions that affirm their own internal biases and that allow them to apply their existing skills and resources to a situation.

There may be numerous reasonable explanations for someone’s driving practices, poor performance on a field sobriety test or failure of a chemical breath test that have nothing to do with alcohol consumption. Prescription medication, special diets, medical conditions and even mental health issues could all also be reasonable explanations for behaviors that police officers associate with impaired driving.

However, they are unlikely to consider these alternate and reasonable explanations because they want alcohol to ultimately be the cause. That is what they expect to see, and so that is what they find. Confirmation bias is a natural inclination to pay attention to evidence that supports your beliefs while ignoring other evidence that undermines them.

What scenarios increase your risk of a drunk driving charge?

If there are certain situations in which a police officer is more likely to unfairly accuse you of drunk driving, then knowing how to recognize and avoid those situations could help you avoid a criminal charge.

Sobriety checkpoints are a perfect example of a situation where an officer expects to find drunk drivers. Traffic enforcement efforts conducted near bars or restaurants, especially in the late night or early morning hours are also places where an officer will look more carefully for drunk drivers. You may be at elevated risk of false accusations of a DUI outside of major venues or close to popular bars. Holidays and weekends are also times when police officers may have a stronger focus on drunk driving.

Identifying different risk factors for a possible DUI charge can help you avoid an unfair and unnecessary arrest.