Why You Should Suck It Up And Pay The Surge Pricing This Weekend

We’ve all had our frustrating experience ordering an Uber to pick us up or take us to the airport only to be greeted with that dreaded SURGE notification before you order your car.  Uber’s surge fares occur during high-demand times, occasions, or even locations by doubling, tripling, and even quadrupling the usually fair rate to take you from point A to point B.

Sometimes you can predict when Uber is going to trigger surge pricing (like New Year’s Eve when some Dallasites saw short trips run their credit card in the triple digits!), and sometimes it seems completely arbitrary (such as my Uber pickup last Wednesday evening on Henderson Ave.).  Either way, we’ve all been guilty of flinching at the SURGE screen appearing on our app and then doing the balancing test in our head as to whether it’s really worth the extra hike in price or if we should just drive home.
Well, consider this your PSA for the upcoming holiday weekend: Don’t risk it!  Pay the surge!

The fact that Monday is Labor Day means that demand for Uber is likely to peak that surge pricing, but it also means that starting Friday police departments around the Metroplex will be stepping up their DWI enforcement efforts.  That means extra officers on the streets looking for drunk drivers as well as judges on call to sign search warrants and nurses at the ready to take a blood sample.  And as expensive as that blasted Uber surcharge can be, a DWI is going to cost you a whole lot more.

So let’s go through some of the thoughts that will be running through your head this weekend as you weigh whether you are going to pay up or pray you don’t get stopped.

  1. I haven’t had that much to drink.  Even if you think you know your limit and you don’t believe you’ve crossed it, the fact is that the standard for arresting someone for DWI is very low.  And let’s face it, on weekends as busy as this one will be, officers are going to be erring on the safe side of things when making arrest decisions.  (And, to be fair, we want them to do that when there are so many people on the road.  I know I don’t want some drunk guy crashing into my Uber).
  2. I’m pretty sure I could pass those tests.  During almost every DWI investigation, officers ask the driver to perform Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs).  SFSTs are a series of three tests where officers look for “clues” that you may be intoxicated.  Now you might believe before hopping in your car this weekend that you could pass those tests if an officer pulls you over, and maybe you could, but the odds are against you if you’ve been drinking.  You see, the SFSTs are not like a normal test where you have 10 questions and as long as you get 7 right you pass (70 % for those of you REALLY bad at math).  Instead, on a single SFST, if you get even two “clues” you fail the test.  And, to top it off, the first test, the eye test, is not a test you can practice or predict.  That means that even if you think you pass the walking test and the one leg stand test, but you fail the eye test, you can still be arrested.  Do you really want to mess with those odds?
  3. Doesn’t the cop have to have a reason to pull me over?  Short answer: yes.  Longer answer: he probably does have a reason to pull you over and you don’t even know it.  You probably know to drive the speed limit (or under) and to use your blinker and not drive like an a**hole (nothing screams pull me over like driving like an a**hole).  However, there are many other traffic violations that you commit every day sober that you probably never think about and therefore also are guilty of after having even one drink.  Here are just a few common reasons officers pull people over when they’re patrolling for DWI.
  • Failure to signal lane change or turn prior to 100 feet
    • Most everyone remembers to put on their blinker before turning or changing lanes, but few people know or remember that even if you use your blinker, you can still be pulled over if you wait until the last minute to do it.
  • Failure to properly stop at a light or stop sign
    • You know that white line at the red light and stop sign? Well, it’s there for a reason and the law says that if even part of your vehicle goes past that line when you stop, an officer can pull you over.  This might sound really basic, but just for fun, try to pay attention to where you stop at every intersection on the way home from work today.  You will be so frustrated after just the first few stops because all of us are guilty of this traffic offense.
  • Failure to turn into the closest practicable lane
    • How often do you make a left-hand turn through an intersection and pull comfortably into the middle lane?  Or turn right coming out of a parking lot and again naturally turn into the middle or far lane?  That’s a traffic offense.  The law says you have to turn into the innermost lane if possible, which feels like such an awkward turn that most of us never do it, but if you make a comfortable wide turn when coming home from a bar, you run the risk of getting pulled over.

At the end of the day, the fact is if an officer is looking for drunk drivers, it’s not hard to get pulled over and if you’ve been drinking it’s not hard to get arrested for DWI.  And the sad truth is, that DWI is going to cost you big.

Break it down:  if you get arrested for DWI the first thing that’s going to cost you is a bond.  If you post a cash bond you will eventually get that money back but it’s expensive up front, and if you use a bondsman it’s not as expensive but you’ll never see that money again.  Then, you’ll have to hire a lawyer which costs thousands of dollars, and you’ll have to take off work every month or so to make your court date.  If you get convicted, things get even worse with probation costs, classes, and to top it all off the State of Texas will assess surcharges on your driver’s license that you will have to pay for years to come.

So, when you are winding down from your Sunday Funday this weekend, or heading home from Grapefest Saturday night, or even leaving the bar you’ve been at all night Friday to go meet your friends at a different bar, don’t reject the surge!  Sure, Uber’s gonna screw you with that high-demand price hike, and a trip home could cost you as much as your tab, but it’s sure to be cheaper than posting a bond the next morning or hiring me on Tuesday.  So for Labor Day weekend, be safe and just suck it up and pay the surge.

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