Have you or someone you know been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? What steps have you taken to avoid a DUI conviction? Do you know what legal options are available to you?
When faced with DUI charges, many people immediately lose hope because they feel like they have already lost. Others simply may not know that there are legal options available to help them avoid a DUI conviction. As a result, these people do nothing after being charged with driving under the influence and they end up with a damaging black mark on their permanent records.
It’s understandable to feel anxious or helpless after being arrested for driving under the influence. DUI charges are serious accusations that often result in serious, life-changing punishment. But it’s important to know that you don’t have to sit back and simply plead guilty to your DUI charges. There are several legal options available to fight and avoid a DUI conviction.
Options to Fight a DUI Charge
The consequences of a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction are harsh. You could lose your driver’s license, be forced to pay heavy fines, and even spend time in jail. In the long run, having a DUI offense on your permanent record could raise your insurance rates or even stop you from being able to find a job.
DUI laws vary widely based from state to state, but there are several options available to avoid a DUI conviction if you have been arrested for drunk driving. This article will explain four options available to fight a DUI charge, including arguing that there was no probable cause for the traffic stop, contesting the legality of a DUI checkpoint, arguing that the BAC test results are inaccurate, and making a “rising blood alcohol level” argument.
No Probable Cause for the Traffic Stop
In order for a police officer to pull you over, he or she must have “probable cause” to do so or the evidence against you could be inadmissible in court. Probable cause means that before a police officer can legally pull you over, the officer must first witness something about your driving that was either illegal (such as running a stop sign or failing to use turn signals) or something that gives the officer reason to suspect you are driving drunk (such as swerving while driving). If the officer who arrested you for a DUI did not have probable cause to complete the traffic stop in the first place, the evidence against you could be thrown out.
Contest the Legality of the DUI Checkpoint
DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints, are roadblocks set up by the police in order to catch and arrest drunk drivers. Though the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that DUI checkpoints are constitutional, police must still have probable cause to do more than detain you for a brief period of time at the checkpoint. If a police officer searches your car without probable cause at a checkpoint, any evidence found may be inadmissible in court.
Furthermore, DUI Checkpoints are not legal in all 50 states. Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all have laws prohibiting DUI checkpoints. And some states place limitations on how and when DUI checkpoints can be used by the police.
Faulty BAC Test Results
Police officers use blood alcohol concentration tests, or BAC tests, to establish that you were driving drunk. BAC tests can be conducted using urine, saliva, hair, breath, or blood. Most commonly, however, breath samples are collected since these are the simplest and the least invasive samples to collect. However, the results from a breathalyzer test are often cited as being inaccurately high due to user error by the police officer administering the test, equipment malfunctions due to improper maintenance or design flaws, or even something as simple as recent mouthwash use by the person being tested. Health issues like acid reflux and heartburn or even a person’s diet can also cause inaccurate breath test results.
Blood tests, which are often completed at the police station or a medical facility, are more accurate than breathalyzer tests. However, even blood tests validity can be questioned if the testers are not qualified to administer the test or analyze the sample, if the equipment malfunctions due to improper maintenance or design flaws, and if the chain of custody for the sample is not properly documented.
If you can call into question the authenticity and accuracy of the BAC results in your case, your chances of avoiding a DUI conviction are increased dramatically.
Make a “Rising Blood Alcohol” Argument
When you drink an alcoholic beverage, it can take up to three hours for the alcohol to be absorbed into your blood. The time it takes for absorption varies from person to persons based on body size and personal metabolisms.
Essentially, the rising blood alcohol defense is the argument that you were first questioned about a DUI shortly after consuming alcohol, but not tested until several hours later. This delayed test gives your body time to absorb the alcohol into your system, thus generating higher BAC test results than if you had been tested right away. But in order to be convicted of a DUI, you must have been over the legal limit at the time of the arrest. It is possible, with a successful argument of rising blood alcohol, for the test results collected hours after the arrest to be thrown out.
In short, if you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI offense, there are several valuable options to avoid a conviction. The four options discussed in this article are only some of the defenses available to you. Contact an experienced attorney in your state to assist you with these and even more options to avoid a DUI conviction.
One of the favorite pass time of the world is ‘shopping’, and you will notice that it is more so in the US. As famous comedian once stated ‘US is a giant shopping mall’, he was not exaggerating. Apart from the traditional shopping at mall, online shopping is many times convenient and cheaper.
If you want to save money and time – online shopping is the way to go. In the realms of online shopping, the options can be broadly categorized into two buckets:
1) Regular shopping sites.
2) Limited time deal sites
Regular shopping sites:
1) Amazon.com: People kid me saying that I am Amazon confidant and I have no qualms about that claim. Amazon is awesome, especially if you are their prime member, with its 2 day free shipping, access to tons of movies/TV shows, unlimited music streaming, Prime membership pays for itself. The biggest perk though is Amazon’s unbeatable prices (save deal sites to be discussed later). They sell everything (almost) and they sell everything for less.
2) Walmart.com: I am not a big fan of Walmart but that shouldn’t let me discount this ‘giant’ of a store with amazing network of shops all over the US. They recently started Site to Shop, wherein you can shop for stuff on their website and pick it up at one of the stores nearby. You also have the option to get it delivered to you directly for some shipping cost. They also offer free shipping for orders over $50. Walmart sells a lot of stuff but Amazon beats Walmart (you can find lot of stuff on Amazon that you may not in any other store (except eBay)).
3) eBay.com: eBay used to be shady. I say ‘used to’ because they have now launched 30 days product guarantee where they back up your purchases. That was the assurance missing earlier which has been addressed. For that reason – eBay has to be on our top list. You can bid for products that do not have option to ‘buy now’. Do not forget to check out their ‘daily deals’.
4) Overstock.com: With their free shipping on orders over $2 and their amazing deals on home improvement goods in particular, overstock is on many shoppers list and for a reason.
Other sites of interest –
www.bestbuy.com – for all electronic needs
www.staples.com – for all stationary needs
www.toysrus.com – toys for all ages
www.tigerdirect.com – new and refurbished online electronics store
www.target.com – for all household needs
Limited time deals sites:
1) Groupon: Groupon went public recently and people have shown their faith in their IPO because of the value Groupon gives to their customers. If you want to try something, say like a massage or spa, check groupon first and you will be amazed to see 50% (or more) discounts. This will encourage you to give a try on things that have been pending for long. They also have amazing deals on electronics, learning classes, services etc. Usually offers last for 2 to 7 days.
2) Slickdeals: Electronics deals king – when it comes to finding a deal on ‘everything’ electronic, you should have a peek here for great deals. They also have other items (like shoes, auto, magazines, softwares etc) but they have set out firm foot print in the electronics and that gets them on our top list.
3) 1Sale.com: (Previously, 1saleaday.com) If you are looking for a watch or electronics or home family items, check this site. They have amazing deals that last for 24 hours (as the name suggests). You may not get latest models for super cheap, but they do list previous models for great discounts. Make sure that they also sell refurbished/factory reconditioned products.
4) DailySteals: Its a daily deals site with limited products listed with heavy discounts. Their model of business has evolved since years, and still command their presence in daily deals market.
5) Woot: Its again a daily deal site, its been in market for years and has good reputation for selling products for good discount. Check their wine section.
6) Deals2buy.com: This site aggregates deals from other sites like dell, walmart, staples etc., Its a good to give a quick peek into currently available deals before venturing into market. I have been using this site since 2006 and got great deals.
Whether you have been living in US for long or you just landed recently, you may be surprised to know that weather emergency vary from state to state. As such, it is important for us to be aware of the common weather emergencies and what to do to be safe and supplied? Here’s some information that may be of help. Before we proceed, please bear the following in mind:
- In case of emergency, call 911
- Always stay tuned with the weather emergency and weather alerts.
- Do not venture out until the emergency alert is lifted.
- Visit ready.gov, US government’s initiative to help Americans become aware and prepared for the natural disasters.
Now let’s look at the more common natural disasters and what to do when one hits your area:
Did you see the movie Twister? That is a celluloid depiction of how tornadoes are and in reality, they are much worse. Tornadoes are rated on a scale of F1 (minimum intensity) to F5 (Maximum intensity). Here are the 13 States that get the most tornadoes in US: Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Iowa, Minnesota, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, South Dakota.
What to do if there is a Tornado alert in your area?
Go to the basement: Try to be on the lowest level of your home/building like basement or storm cellar.
Stay away from windows: The first impact of a tornado is on outer surface of your building and you should not be in the pathway of shattering glass or flying debris.
Do not venture out until the warning has been lifted.
A more thorough details about safety can be found here.
Florida is a State of sunny days, white sand beaches and great seafood with their DMV plate tag ‘The Sunshine State’, but Florida is also notorious for its thunderstorms. In fact, it has 8 of the top 12 spots for the cities with the most thunderstorm days. Other States that have frequent thunderstorms are Alabama, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas.
What to do if there is a Thunderstorm alert in your area?
- Take shelter, stay in the innermost room, duck down and stay indoors until the thunderstorm warning has been lifted.
- Be wary about the hail, flying objects and seek immediate shelter.
- Stay away from the windows at all times during the thunderstorm warning period.
- If you are in a State that sees thunderstorms more frequently that others, have a disaster supplies kit. This link has more information.
North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, New Jersey, New York city, Texas, Virginia – we just enumerated 10 spots that are most vulnerable for hurricanes.
What to do if there is a Hurricane alert in your area?
- Stay away from windows.
- Stay in the interior room of your home.
- Keep your most important documents, including insurance details, in ‘waterproof’ container and keep it in the highest elevated spot in your home. If you are to evacuate the home, carry the documents in waterproof container with you and keep it secured all times.
- Stay tuned to weather updates on Radio/websites/news channels.
Earthquakes do not affect all states, at least, not frequently. There are some States that get more earthquakes in their share than others like: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Oregon.
What to do if there is a earthquake in your area?
– Ideal situation is to be outside in a clear surrounding.
– If you are indoors, take cover under a bed/table in the interior room
– Try not to run for shelter under a tree, building or other structure during and immediately after an earthquake
Floods can happen in most unsuspecting places. Top 10 States with flood issues more frequent than other States, from 10 to 1 are: Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, California, Louisiana and Florida.
What to do if there is a flood alert in your area?
- If outdoors, move to a higher ground.
- If indoors, stay in the top floor.
- Keep tuned to weather information.
- Keep your documents, including insurance documents, in a waterproof bag/container.
- If you live in a flood prone region, talk to your insurance agent to include the National Flood Insurance Program
Being informed and prepared is the best way to deal with natural disasters. What we have touched upon are frequent natural disasters, US government’s weather related emergencies wing lists other types of natural disasters that may happen in US, planning and safety tips at their Ready.gov website. You can order publications free of cost at the same site.
Recently Eagle’s LeSean McCoy came under a lot of public focus for leaving a tip of 20 cents even though he had a 45 million dollars extension contract for 5 years. It is not our intent to say that you have to leave tip if you are a millionaire. Unlike certain parts of world, tipping runs deep in US culture.
Photo courtesy: Dave Dugdale
Tipping etiquette is part of US culture. It is more so that it is part of the etiquette one is expected to know when you go for lunch or dinner at a restaurant or in a hotel or if you take a ride in cab. In the movie Reservoir Dogs there is an elaborate scene about the topic of tipping, that shows how tipping is an american way. But for the purposes of this article – we will see basic stuff on tipping:
Breakfast: 15% if you are served at a table and tended to. If you are at a continental breakfast kind of setting where you serve yourself and throw your own plates off – then no tip is required.
Lunch/Brunch: 15% is customary. If you receive an exceptional service 20% is a good gesture. The range between 15 to 20% indicates the service ranging from acceptable to excellent. If you leave tip higher than 20% it says that you received a stellar service.
Buffet: No tip is generally required, however, if you have been served beverages or other add ons at the table then it would be a good gesture to leave a tip. 10 to 15% should be ok if you have only got ‘add ons’ (like beverages, plates etc but you got your own food from the bar).
Dinner: 15% is minimum while 20% is good. A good rule of thumb, if you received good service, is to leave at least 18% in tip.
Party of five: Irrespective of the type of meal – if you are a party of 4 or more, make sure to check whether gratuity is included in your bill or not. Sometimes – gratuity may already been included – in which case – it is up to you whether you want to add any more tip or not.
Carry out: No tip is required, however, if your order is too big or if the person helps you with your order to your car, then do recognize it with a $2 to $5 in tip.
Fastfood: No tip required.
Too little for %?: Remember if the bill is too small, then do not go with %s – rather make sure you leave at least $2 to $5 in tip.
Taxi ride: If your ride is comfortable in the cab with clean interiors, no smell etc., then you can tip between $5-$10. If your total bill is too little to tip, even a $1 is appreciated.
Transportation information covering 50 capital cities and 50 of the most populated cities of America
The most common way to commute in USA is by your own car, however, if you are in a big city you can survive on public transportation without a car. Below are the most common modes of transportation outside of personal car.
Flight: Of course, the most common and easy method to travel is to fly. There are many websites that you can use but recently www.kayak.com has been good. Also,www.priceline.com gives you the opportunity to name your price.
Amtrak: Amtrak is the interstate transport system that can get you farther places. Of course problem is that it is not that well connected but wherever it runs through, it is a comfortable way to travel. You can check their schedules and fare on their website at:www.amtrak.com
Greyhound: Perhaps one of the oldest bus service that operates in almost all states to almost any destination you can think of. Check their site for the schedule and fares.
Megabus: Megabus has started their services in some cities recently and the response is great. If you book early enough you can get ticket as low as $1. Check their site for the schedules and fare. http://us.megabus.com/
Public* transportation: All above choices are for commuting from one city to another or one state to another. When you are living in a city, you need to know about local commute. Below you will find the details of public transit for 50 capital cities in the US and 50 most populated cities in US.
|Arizona||Phoenix||http://www.valleymetro.org/||(602) 253-5000 or TTY (602) 251-2039
|Arizona||Tucson||http://suntran.com/||(520) 792-9222 or TDD (520) 628-1565
|Arizona||Mesa||http://www.valleymetro.org/planning_your_trip/||(602) 253-5000 or TTY (602) 251-2039
|California||Oakland||http://www.actransit.org/maps/||510-891-4706; TDD/TYY 711 or 800-735-2929
|California||Sacramento||http://www.sacrt.com/||(916) 321-BUSS (2877)
|California||San Diego||http://www.sdcommute.com/||(619) 233-3004
|California||Long Beach||http://www.lbtransit.com/||(562) 591-2301
|District of Columbia||Washington||http://www.wmata.com/||202-637-7000/TTY 202-638-3780
|Florida||Jacksonville||http://www.jtafla.com/Default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1||(904) 630-3100/ TDD (904) 630-3191
|Illinois||Chicago||http://www.transitchicago.com/||(312) 836-7000 OR 1-888-968-7282
|Indiana||Indianapolis||http://www.indygo.net/||317.635.3344 OR 800.743.3333
|Louisiana||Baton Rouge||http://www.brcats.com/||225-389-8282 ext 106 OR Automated: 225-929-7740
|Maine||Augusta||http://www.apta.com/resources/links/unitedstates/Pages/MaineTransitLinks.aspx||(202) 496-4800 Or 1 207 873-2122 (Augusta Area)
|Massachussetts||Boston||http://www.mbta.com/||(617)222-3200 or 1-800-392-6100
|Mississippi||Jackson||http://www.city.jackson.ms.us/government/planning/jatran||(601) 948.7140 OR (601) 948.3840
|Missouri||Jefferson City||http://www.jeffcitymo.org/transit/||(573) 634-6477
|Nebraska||Lincoln||http://www.lincoln.ne.gov/city/pworks/startran/||402-441-7185 or 402-476-1234
|Nevada||Carson City||http://www.rtcwashoe.com/public-transportation-3||775-348-RIDE (348-7433)
|Nevada||Las Vegas||http://www.rtcsnv.com/transit/||Phone: 702-228-7433 OR 702-676-1834 (TDD)
|New Hampshire||Concord||http://www.concordareatransit.org/||225-3295, ext. 1202
|New Mexico||Sata Fe||http://www.santafenm.gov/index.aspx?nid=498||(505) 955-2001
|New York||New York||http://new.mta.info/nyct||718-596-8585, or 718-596-8273 (TTY)
|North Carolina||Raleigh||http://www.gotriangle.org/go-info/contact-us/||919-485-RIDE (7433)
|North Dakota||Bismarck||http://www.bismantransit.com/||(701) 223-9001
|Ohio||Columbus||http://www.cota.com/||Ph (614) 228-1776 TTY/TTD (614) 228-1832
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma City||http://www.gometro.org/||(405) 235-7433
|Pennsylvania||Philadelphia||http://www.septa.org/||(215) 580-7800 or (215) 580-7853 (TDD/TYY)
|Rhode Island||Providence||http://www.ripta.com/||(401) 781-9400
|South Carolina||Columbia||http://www.gocmrta.com/||(803) 255-7085
|South Dakota||Pierre||http://www.rcptransit.com/||(605) 945-2360
|Texas||San Antonio||http://www.viainfo.net/||(210) 362-2020 TTY (210) 362-2019
|Utah||Salt Lake City||http://www.rideuta.com/||1-888-743-3882/ 801-743-3882
|Virginia||Virginia Beach||http://www.gohrt.com/route/virginia-beach/||(757) 222-6100 TDD: (757) 722-8427
|West Virginia||Charleston||http://www.rideonkrt.com/||(304) 343-7586
1. For traffic and travel updates, dial 511 while in the State
2. Informational purposes only. Accuracy not guaranteed. Information as of July 1, 2013. Errors and omissions expected.
*Some of these may have been owned privately but are available to public.
US is a big country, without exploring its beauty by traveling – your visit to US may not be complete. How then can you travel to the best spots in US without burning your pocket? Let’s look at the sites that we ourselves use to find deals. We will look into four different categories and we will throw in some additional options, just for the good measure:
- Rental Cars
- Other Options
Photo credit: Marc Levin
Flights within US:
When it comes to finding a flight deal – its a very tricky jungle out there. For some ungodly reason – you tend to find worse deals on official sites and great deals on booking sites. Below is a list of our favorite booking sites.
SouthWest: Booking sites are sweet but what is sweeter is finding a good deal on the official website that also has ‘free baggage allowance’. No wonder this company fought its way back from bankruptcy to becoming one of the major players. They merged Airtran making their routes even more accessible.
Spirit Airlines: If you don’t mind about the ‘non-reclining’ chairs and don’t bother about snacks on a 1 to 2 hour flights – then spirit airlines is worth checking. Last time we flew to Dallas – we saved over $250 on two tickets together. I don’t think the handful peanuts on other airlines are worth $250.
Kayak: Probably one of the best sites on the internet to find best flight deals, especially, local travel.
OneTravel: We found the best deals, better than kayak, on international travel from/to US on this site. Not our favorite for local travel but definitely worth checking out for international. Pay extra attention to your route before confirming the ticket. They have 24 hour cancel policy wherein you can cancel your tickets within first 24 hours for a nominal fees. Sweet deal when you are getting non-refundable ticket deals with this feature.
Expedia: This site serves many corporates around the world and for a good reason. Their price match is great – in case you find a better deal after booking your trip – they will reimburse you the difference.
Priceline: Unique feature of this site is you can name your price and if they find a deal that matches your price – they will confirm your booking. The itinerary is a bit twisted but prices are sweet.
Hotels in US:
Traveling can be exhausting and you want to find a good place to crash. It is even better if you get it at a good price.
Hotwire: The BEST when it comes to finding cheaper hotels. My recent search showed me deals of $76 for a 3 star hotel on a long weekend in San Antonio, one of good tourist destinations. The only draw back is that you will not find the ‘hotel’ you are going to be booked at until you confirm the booking.
Booking.com: This is my favorite site for international hotel booking. Their prices are hard to beat even by a local booking agent. When I traveled along Argentina – this site was a god sent as I did not have to go through hoops to get a deal in a foreign country.
Trivago: Trivago is a hotel search engine, that is, it finds the best deals from other booking sites and presents the comparison for same room from different sites so that you can make the decision. Prices are competent to Hotwire and you don’t have the guess work like in hotwire.
Hotels.com: Obvious choice, they call it. Obviously we couldn’t leave it out.
Car Rentals :
Personally, I prefer driving to flying. Especially, if the drive is under 8 hours. First – I love driving, second, for a 8 hour road trip, the flight is about 1.5 to 2 hours, with security check (2 hours), going to airport (1 hour), finding a cab (.5 hr), getting to where you have to (.5 to 1 hour) put together – you spend 6.5 hours anyway. Of course, if you don’t love driving, flying maybe best bet. Also, during long weekends flying is much more expensive than driving.
Hotwire: We are glad to see hotwire the second time and for a reason. Their prices are always awesome. The drawback, though, continues. You will not know who you are renting from until you confirm the booking. Since they only have reliable players in their list – I don’t mind the chance.
Enterprise: “Pick us and we’ll pick you” is Enterprise’s motto. When you book the car with Enterprise – they will pick you up and drop you off (within their area of coverage). Sweet. Apart from that – I have always been a fan of enterprise until they changed their unlimited nationwide miles to unlimited neighboring state miles. Nevertheless, not everyone is as crazy as I am when it comes to driving – and so – enterprise is still a way to go if you are driving to neighboring states and want unlimited miles at sweet price. To top it off they stood number 1 in customer service/ratings for 2014.
Avis: Avis operations are far fetching and I like the fact that I can rent a car in a country like India, where historically car renting has not been in vogue, with Avis. Check Avis for your international travel needs.
Hertz: Like hotels.com in the previous section – we cannot complete this section without including Hertz when it comes to rental cars. They have extensive availability of cars in almost all locations that you find car rental services in US.
We covered air, road and now its time to turn to water. There are many vacation cruise package deals to many locations from the US. Unless you are prone to seasickness, cruise is an experience you must add to your bucket list.
Expedia: We see another service provider that appeared twice on this list and there is a good reason to it. When it comes to cruises you want a reliable service and with its price guarantee and a long history – Expedia is a real deal when it comes to cruises.
CruiseOne: Get cruise and destination credits that you can spend on cruise and the destination. One of the most contemporary sites with wide range of options.
iCruise: When your plans are to take your cruising international (works well for national too) – then this is a site you want to check to find the deal.
Cruise.com: This is our hotels.com for the cruise section – we have to mention it because – it is an obvious choice and you shouldn’t book anything before comparing the deal here.
Other travel options: If you don’t want to fly, drive or take cruise, the other option is train and bus. Following are few choices:
Amtrak: Where available, amtrak is a great way to travel. For the number 1 country in the world – train connectivity sucks. That is why, unfortunately, I had to include this under ‘other’ options.
Greyhound: Probably one of the most endured way of traveling in US and still continues to be one of the most connected transportation (better than train) system. Not the classy of choices but a choice nevertheless.
MegaBus: Serving close to 10% of US population (30 million out of 330 million) MegaBus is a great option, where available. If you book the ticket early enough – you maybe able to get it for under $10. They have onboard wi-fi, electric ports to run your laptop (or to charge your PDA, etc).
We hope all the array of choices we presented in this article inspire you to travel and explore new places.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Not an advice.