Being pulled over for a DUI is a stressful and potentially frightening experience. Even if you have not had anything to drink or had a few drinks but believe you are under the legal limit, you may still be scared or unsure of how to act.
Police officers in Georgia need reasonable suspicion to pull you over. This means they should have seen something that causes them to think you might be driving drunk, such as speeding or swerving.
When police officers pull you over without reasonable suspicion, this is a violation of your rights. You may not realize this at the time of the stop, especially if the police officers claim they saw you driving suspiciously.
Act politely and follow directions
Even if you believe you were pulled over illegally, the time to fight it is not at the stop itself. Act respectfully and follow the instructions of the police officers. Arguing or resisting could cause you to make statements that could later be used against you, or you might end up with an additional charge, such as resisting arrest or disorderly conduct.
However, you do not have to answer certain questions the police officers ask. In fact, aside from stating your name and providing your identification or car registration documents, you should say nothing else.
Do not admit to drinking anything. Sometimes people’s nervousness causes them to start talking, believing that if they are friendly with the police officers or honest about how much they had to drink, the police officers will go easy on them.
The truth is that police officers are usually counting on this and hope your statements will give them the probable cause they need to make an arrest. If you are asked questions such as how much you had to drink, or where you are driving to, do not answer.
Remain silent or tell them you do not wish to answer. If they keep asking, request an attorney or ask if you are free to go.
How to handle sobriety tests
You may be asked to perform certain sobriety tests. You have a right to refuse the tests, but refusing certain tests can carry certain penalties.
The police officers could ask you to perform field sobriety tests. These are tests involving physical movement or mental exercises, such as walking in a straight line or reciting the alphabet backward.
You can refuse field sobriety tests. They are generally unreliable and not a good measure of someone’s intoxication level. Many people fail them simply because they are nervous.
The police officers might also ask you to take a breath test. This involves blowing into a device that registers your blood alcohol level to determine if you are over the legal driving limit.
While you can refuse a breath test, if you are ultimately arrested and charged with a DUI, you face more serious penalties for refusing the breath test. It is usually best to submit to the test.
If you fail the test and are arrested, that is the time to begin working on defending yourself against the charges. There are several common DUI defenses that may apply to your case.
A thorough evaluation of your situation can help you determine if any of these defenses are available.