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Being Investigated for DUI? Do Not Claim you have the Coronavirus!

My general advice is that you are dealing with a law enforcement officer in an investigative mode is to say as little as possible.  How you say things and what you say will often be used against you.

Unfortunately, a woman in New Jersey did not have or did not follow that general admonition.  According to the Philly Voice, a 28-year-old woman crashed her car.  An officer of the Hanover Township came to investigate.  In the course of the investigation, she began breathing on the officers and being belligerent.  Once she was taken to the station for questioning, she told officers that she had been infected with coronavirus by her hospitalized boyfriend.  She declared that she had it and, now, so did the officers.  

Further investigation revealed that she was lying about everything that she said.  So, on top of the charges of refusal to take a breath test, careless driving and reckless driving, she was charged with false public alarm.  Creating a false public alarm is a third degree crime punishable by 3 to 5 years in a New Jersey state prison.

It is never a good idea to lie to a police officer.  It can compound whatever difficulties you were already facing.  In Georgia, it can lead to felony charges.  

The general rules are:

  • Say as little as possible. 
  • Do not agree to any field tests, including handheld breath detectors. 
  • Do not agree to submit to a state test of your breath, blood or urine unless you know that you have no alcohol, prescription medications, or illegal drugs in your system. 

There is a narrow group of people who may benefit from agreeing to take a state test.  That would be Georgia licensed drivers over the age of twenty-one (21) years, who have not been involved in a wreck where someone else was hurt or killed, who do not have any illegal drugs in their system, and who have not been convicted of DUI for an arrest that occurred in the five years preceding the new case.  Those are a lot of limitations.

But, especially these days, do not claim that you have coronavirus or any other highly contagious disease or condition.

Sean A. Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.

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