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10 Tips to Avoid Driving Drunk

cop breathalyzer test dui drunk drivingLights flash in your rear-view mirror. Busted. You start to feel sick. You don’t relish a run-in with the cops even on an average day, but the thing is, you aren’t totally sure your blood alcohol level is under .08.

You start to get sweaty as the cop approaches your window. The last thing you want is to spend the night in jail and get your keys taken away for 6 months. You imagine the looks on your friends’ faces as they try not to judge you, and that’s almost worse than knowing you could’ve gotten in a wreck or hurt someone else.

Don’t want to be in this situation? Of course not! Nobody does. So read these 10 ways to make sure you don’t drive while you’re intoxicated. (And if I’ve left something out, leave your own tips in the comments.) Consider:

10. Give someone your keys

Find someone trustworthy who isn’t drinking and hand over your keys for the night. Make sure they don’t give them back until they are confident you are OK to drive. Any effect to your coordination, speech, and/or balance means your blood alcohol level could be high enough to convict you of a DUI. The worse your speech is and the more unsteady you are, the more likely it is that you are in excess of .08 BAC. Dropping things and running into things as you walk is a good clue you’ve had too much.

9. Don’t drink on an empty stomach

Science shows that alcohol is absorbed by the body more slowly on a full stomach. If you’re hungry or dehydrated, the booze will go straight into your bloodstream and hit you harder. If you eat a big meal before drinking, you won’t get drunk as quickly. Try to eat proteins, fats, and dense carbs like meat, cheese, a PB&J sandwich, or yogurt.

And make sure you drink water — not soda — before, during, and after your drinking to slow down the absorption rate of the alcohol. (Soda will get you drunk faster.) Also, the old adage is true: Beer before liquor, never been sicker. This is because the carbonation in beer or soda makes the body absorb things faster. Mix hard alcohol with soda, and it’s the express lane for alcohol to affect you.

8. Know your body and pace yourself

Most people metabolize about one drink an hour (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or one shot of liquor). Heavier people and men generally metabolize a little more, and thinner people and women generally metabolize a little less. However, diet, tolerance and many other factors make it difficult to pinpoint exactly how much NOT to drink. A decent game plan is to have no more than 1 alcoholic drink an hour and follow each alcoholic drink with a full pint of water.

See approximately how fast you process alcohol using this calculator or these charts. For example, a 150-pound woman might be able to have 2 drinks in an hour and legally be OK to drive, but not a 125-pound woman. And a 175-pound guy might be fine with 3 drinks an hour, but not a 150-pound guy.

IMPORTANT: These are just general guidelines. You should start knowing your body and not rely on charts. Hopefully you already have a sense of your limit. Whatever it is, avoid drinking games unless you won’t be driving.

hipster couple riding subway7. Take public transit

No, it’s not glamorous, but taking the bus home is cheaper than a cab (free here in Missoula, in fact) and safer than driving. Check the Mountain Line schedule here.

6. Spend the night

This won’t work if you’re out at a bar, but if you’re at a friend’s house, ask if you can crash on the couch. Or catch a ride home with someone and sleep on their floor. If you’re blackout drunk, don’t go to sleep right away — the harsh reality is that you could choke on your own vomit. Someone passing out from drinking should go to the hospital just to be safe. Don’t let a friend get alcohol poisoning or make horrible decisions.

5. Wait an hour or two

Time is the only way to sober up — not coffee (which will dehydrate you even more), not chugging water, not taking a shower. Your blood alcohol level will go down roughly the equivalent of one drink an hour, so hang out and help clean up after the party, watch a movie, take a walk, or get something to eat while you wait. It’s hard to do but a good idea.

4. Stop drinking 90 minutes before you plan to leave

Designate a time to stop drinking alcohol that is hours before you plan to leave. You will still have alcohol in your system hours after you stop drinking. To be on the safe side, plan ahead and count backwards from when you want to leave. Want to head home around midnight? Don’t drink after 10:30 p.m. Then you won’t have to wait around til 2 a.m. for your buzz to wear off.

3. Take the night off from drinking

Be the designated driver tonight — and then stick to a no-drinking plan. If you and your friends take turns being the DD on different nights, you can drink on most occasions and have a safe ride home. Is the occasional night sober really that bad? You can laugh at all the drunken antics, and plus, you won’t feel totally gross tomorrow. If you really feel like you’re missing out, make yourself a mocktail with pomegranate juice and sparkling water, or sip an O’Doul’s. I know, it’s not the same…but you want to get home alive.

taxi cab snowing night

2. Call a cab

If you have the money, calling a cab is obviously one of your best options. You get to sleep in your own bed without any risk of getting a DUI. Sure, you have to pick up your car in the morning, but you might be able to get a ride (or take a cab back).

1. Pick a designated driver

Having a friend drive you home is probably your best option. It’s free, you still get to enjoy a few drinks, and you’re safe. Just make sure that friend hasn’t drunk too much! Don’t ride with anyone who’s intoxicated, even if they say they’re fine. Agree at the beginning of the night on who’ll be the designated driver, and don’t let anyone pressure them to drink.

I hope at least a few of these ideas are helpful. If the worst happens and you do get a DUI, I can help protect your rights and walk you through your options. And I promise not to judge. We’ve all been there. Call or email me at 406.721.3354 or

Photos: West Midlands Police, Ryan Vaarsi, Takashi Hososhima


Can I travel to Canada after a DUI Conviction in the US?

Canadian Flag

Has anyone told you that you can’t travel to Canada if you are convicted of a DUI in the United States? Well it is true. Anyone with a criminal record, including DUI, may be excluded from Canada. However, a process called Criminal Rehabilitation exists to gain travel privileges. If you were convicted of only one (1) DUI offense in the states, and a period of 10 years has passed since the completion of the sentence, you will be deemed Rehabilitated and Canada will allow you to travel freely. If you completed your sentence more than five (5) years ago, you can be eligible to apply to enter with a paperwork process. However you better have written proof establishing the timeline of your conviction(s) and completion and Canada has different calculations to determine when you “completed” your sentence. For example, if you were on probation, they start calculating the time after you ended probation. If your license was suspended for a DUI, they don’t start the 5 year clock until your suspension was over. Also, there is a process by which someone can get a waiver of this rule and a special Temporary Resident Permit or visa.
At the Judnich Law Office, we have helped many people through this process that has been convicted of a DUI and received notice that they had no problems after arrangements were made. Time is an important consideration though, IT TAKES TIME TO WORK THIS PAPERWORK OUT. Canada is not the United States, and they don’t care if you are in a rush. So don’t wait until the last minute. If you have a criminal conviction and want assistance getting into Canada, please contact us to find out how we can help you and what the cost associated with this help costs.

“Do I Need a Lawyer for a DUI?” Yes! 4 Reasons Why

Did you just get arrested for a DUI? You’re probably getting a lot of unsolicited advice. Well-intentioned friends and relatives may be telling you how to plead and whether to hire a lawyer. You’re probably hearing about someone’s cousin’s friend, who is a bankruptcy lawyer, or how someone else’s lawyer did something amazing to keep a DUI off her record.

Some of these people may have great advice! But unless they’re actually a Montana DUI lawyer, I suggest you also talk to one of us. Even if you don’t end up hiring a DUI attorney, getting a free consultation — which we offer — can help you figure out your options. Here’s why you should talk to a Montana DUI defense lawyer:

1. Your Police Record and Future Are at Stake

Getting a DUI is scary on multiple levels. It can be an unpleasant awakening to a drinking problem, or it can be frightening because you’re innocent. It’s mostly intimidating because it has such long-term effects. In Montana, a DUI is on your record forever and cannot be taken off.


Having a misdemeanor or felony on your record can affect your chances of getting the job and apartment you want. A DUI can be expensive in terms of legal fees and car insurance if your carrier drops you. If you lose your driver’s license for a year, are you ready to get groceries by bike or public transit? Can someone give you a ride to work? It’s inconvenient to say the least. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse — you probably already feel guilty and ashamed. The best thing you can do for your future is to get treatment if you need it, and hire a good DUI lawyer.

2. You Probably Don’t Know Legal Particulars

Sure, it’s called “the legal system,” but a more accurate name is “a complex labyrinth designed to make you weep from confusion.” The ins and outs of DUI law are not something you can pick up from watching The Good Wife. (You’re more likely to get misinformation and dramatization.) If this is your first arrest, you’re even more likely to be confused and overwhelmed. Either work with a public defender or hire a DUI attorney, but don’t represent yourself in a trial. Without a good lawyer, you may have to pay higher bails and be subject to pre-trial supervision and alcohol monitoring, or several other conditions that an experienced attorney may get waived for you.

Photo: FunGi Trading

A good DUI lawyer knows Montana DUI law in and out. At Judnich Law Office, we know how to handle every single step of the process from your arraignment, interpret the police report, and assess and fight any blood, urine, or breath test results. We know how you should plead, and whether we should contest how the cops followed (or didn’t follow) procedure. We’ve seen hundreds of Montana DUI cases with great results. Plus, we stay on top of the latest changes in the law and new cases that could affect the outcome of yours.

That doesn’t mean that every DUI lawyer is great — far from it. Talk to several and ask how many DUI cases they have defended and won. (Avvo has more good questions, like how they would keep the DUI off your record, and what percent of their practice is DUI defenses.) You need experience and an attorney that knows the judges, the prosecutors and the officers to get results. If you feel like the person is talking circles around you, politely turn them down. The best DUI lawyers will actually answer your questions (and do so honestly).

3. Public Defenders Are Too Busy

I like and respect many public defenders; we work alongside them everyday. But the sad reality is that a lot of them are overloaded. Their caseload may be too heavy for them to invest the time and energy into your case. Some extra research and investigating can make all the difference in your situation if it uncovers a helpful detail. There are definitely some excellent, hardworking public defenders out there. But given the serious nature of a DUI conviction, would you prefer to have an attorney who does not have time for you, or invest in one that you are paying to devote time to your case and your case only?  Unfortunately, unlike DUI lawyers, if you aren’t happy with your public defender, you don’t get to pick a new one or the one of your choice.

courtroom trial DUI case

4. The DMV Complicates Things

With a DUI, you aren’t just dealing with the court; you’re also dealing with the DMV. DUI cases typically involve suspending your license. The public defender’s office cannot handle this type of issue for you, only a private attorney can help you with civil license suspension issues. If you want to contest the DMV license suspension, you have a limited time to act or you lose your opportunity. We can file a petition on your behalf to attempt to un-suspend your license and get it back for you and actually explain the process to you.


Arrested for a DUI and want to know your options?

I can tell you about my experience winning DUI defense cases. For a free, no-pressure consultation, call the Judnich Law Office at 406-721-3354 or email me:


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