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What if I'm stopped for a Georgia DUI

It helps to have information before you are stopped for a Georgia DUI

You're driving down the road, and suddenly the blue lights come on behind you . . .

You're driving down the road and you come upon a roadblock . . .

What do you do?

How do you minimize your chances of a DUI arrest and conviction?

First, if you have any choice whatsoever, DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.  Ride with a friend, ride a bus, call a taxi, call someone you know, wait where you are, or do anything you have to do to avoid getting behind the wheel after you've been drinking.

Second, be reasonably cooperative and polite with the officer.  Nothing will get you into the back of the squad  car faster than a bad attitude.  Produce your license, registration and insurance documentation quickly.   Always know where these items are.  Nothing says "drunk" to an officer more than your not being able to find these documents.

Third, decline to perform any roadside tests (Georgia law only, your state law may vary.  See a DUI lawyer in your state.).  Do so in a polite but firm fashion.

Fourth, do not discuss the subject of drinking with the officer.  Do not lie to the officer.  "I'd rather not say," is a perfectly appropriate answer.  The officer is attempting to get you to incriminate yourself.  "Two beers," even if true, is not a good answer, because many DUI arrestees claim that they have only had "two beers."

Fifth, If the officer indicates that he is going to arrest you, request that you be allowed to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.  In Georgia, this will likely not be until after you have been "booked in" at the station or jail.  Invoking your right to counsel can be important in stopping law enforcement from gathering evidence from you.

Sixth, Speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested but within normal business hours.  Delay can result in your losing important rights in the process.

Seventh, if you are stopped, but are not going to be placed under arrest, please do not allow the officer to talk you into allowing him or her to search your vehicle.  "No thanks, I don't have time."  The frequency with which people allow their privacy to be invaded in this manner has led many law enforcement personnel to expect that they will always be allowed to search a person's vehicle.  Even if you believe that there is nothing in your vehicle, you should refuse to allow this invasion of your personal space.

Finally, Know whether you should take the state test or not. Answer the following questions to get an indication of what you should do under Georgia law.

Unless you have not been drinking alcohol at all and have not consumed marijuana or any other drug or medication, the right choice is almost always to say NO.  

Are you under the age of twenty-one?

If yes, you should not take the test.  The BrAC limit for drivers of your age is 0.02.  The machine's margin of error is 0.02 and there are many substances aside from alcohol that can trigger a false high reading.  If you do take the test and it shows more than 0.02, you should request and insist upon an independent test of your blood.

If no, keep going.

Have you had any amount of alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal, prescription or over-the-counter) within the past twelve hours?

If your answer is no, then take the test, but ask for an independent test of your blood if the state test shows any level or if the officer is going to charge you with DUI.

Because of recent changes in officer education, officers seem hyper-sensitive about medications at this time.  Some officers seem to believe that the possibility of any medication in a driver's system is enough evidence to charge the person with DUI.

If your answer is yes, then keep going.

Are you a Commercial Driver's License holder operating a commercial vehicle?

If yes, you should probably not take the test because the level for you is 0.04 which is very low, especially taking into account the margin of error for the machine and possible interferents.

If no, then keep going.

Are you licensed in a state other than Georgia?

If yes, you should probably not take the test, as the initial suspension is only of your privilege to drive in Georgia, and the state test could give evidence which would cause you to be convicted of DUI and result in the suspension of your home state license?

If no, then keep going?

Were you involved in a wreck where someone was killed or seriously injured?

If yes, you should probably not take the test.  The test could give evidence which could show that you committed the offense of DUI which would allow the state to prosecute you for felony offenses of Serious Injury by Vehicle or Vehicular Homicide which carry up to fifteen years in prison.

If no, keep going.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes.  If you have consumed no alcohol, but have consumed prescription, over-the-counter, legal or illegal drugs, including marijuana, and the officer is asking only for a breath test, you should probably submit to the breath test, but refuse a request for a blood or urine test.

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