Georgia DUI Traffic Stop Guide
Be polite and respectful.This goes a long way with what the officer will agree to in negotiating your case. Plus, you're probably on camera and if you're a jerk, the prosecutor, judge, and jury will know it. And people generally don't like jerks.
NEVER lie to the officer.DUI is typically a misdemeanor, but making a false statement to a law enforcement officer can be a felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment! The police can lie to you all day long and it's not a crime, but it's illegal to lie to them. Totally fair, right?
NEVER admit to drinking or using drugs, even prescription drugs.These admissions are always used against you later in court. Most people will say "I had two beers earlier," no matter how many beers they actually had. Prosecutors and police officers know this. Additionally, even if you're prescribed a medication you can still be DUI from using that lawfully prescribed medication as directed.
Don't forget rule #2, above. Instead of lying about what drinks or drugs you've had, simply respond with something to the effect of "I/m sorry officer, but my family attorney told me never to answer questions during a traffic stop without him here."
Decline to take ALL field sobriety tests.This includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (the eye test where the officer waves a finger in front of your face), the walk and turn test, the one leg stand test, alphabet test, or any other tests. If an officer asks you to step from the car and perform these tests, he's likely already made up his mind that you're going to jail. All he's doing is gathering evidence to use against you in court.
Although the officer probably won't tell you this roadside, field sobriety tests are VOLUNTARY. You're not required to volunteer to take them, but if you do, the prosecution will hammer you with it in court later. By denying the officer that evidence, you have a greater chance of having the arrest suppressed and the DUI thrown out later.
Decline to take the ROADSIDE (handheld) breathalizer test.This is another "field sobriety test" that is voluntary and you can decline to take it.
If you are arrested, AGREE to take the breath or blood test.**If you refuse a requested breath or blood test, your license and privilege to drive will be suspended for a year with NO chance for a limited driving permit / work permit. This hard suspension is difficult to undo. If you test under the limit, the charges will likely be thrown out. If you test over the limit, by refusing the earlier voluntary field sobriety evaluations you have put yourself in a position where the officer may not have enough probable cause to arrest you and the test results will be thrown out.
**There are three instances where you should NOT take the requested state-administered breath or blood test, including where:
1. You're under 21 years old; OR
2. You were in an accident involving injury or death; OR
3. You've been convicted of DUI within the last 10 years.
In each of these cases, the penalties are so harsh that it's better to risk the one year suspension. In each case we can bargain with the officer for reinstatement of your license.
ALWAYS request an independent test of your blood at a hospital.Police most often request breath tests, but I bet you've never see a breathalyzer at a hospital. Why not? In life or death situations, accuracy matters. A blood test is the most accurate measure of blood alcohol, and you have the right after submitting to the State test to have an independent test done at a local hospital.
You are typically required to pay out of pocket, but it is well worth the expense for two important reasons. First, the blood test will typically show a lower alcohol concentration. If it does not, we're not required to turn that evidence over to the State. Second, if you request a blood test and the officer does not comply, the breath test is thrown out. So if the breath test is thrown out and they have no field sobriety evaluations to show, the prosecution's case is weak at best.
NEVER consent to a police search of your car.Always have a friend, family member, or tow truck of your choosing retrieve your vehicle. If the police have your car towed, they're going to search it. If they search it and find anything illegal, that's going to be used against you in court. Whether drugs, an open beer container, or the receipt from the bar, your car is full of evidence that the police can use to strengthen their case.
For some mistaken reason, many people believe that police asking for consent to search their car is a "test" and, if they say "yes" that the police will not search their car. If you say "yes" then police are going to search your car. It's not a trick question.
Call a DUI attorney IMMEDIATELY to start building a defense.In most cases the State seeks an administrative license suspension (ALS) which gives you only 10 days from your arrest to contest it. If you do not contest the ALS within that 10 days, a 12 month license suspension automatically kicks in. A knowledgeable DUI attorney will know the best ways to prevent an automatic suspension of your license and how to start building the best defense in your case.