It goes without saying that drinking and driving should be avoided. That being said, people make mistakes, and some mistakes can be costly for a long time to come. A conviction for a Georgia DUI can result in fairly harsh criminal penalties as well as other consequences which can potentially last a lifetime. While no one ever expects to be pulled over and charged with DUI, it can help to have certain information should a DUI stop occur. The following are some important issues to consider:
- Never, ever make any admissions or denials regarding what or how much you had to drink prior to the stop. If you feel compelled to explain to the officer that you “only” had two drinks while at your sister-in-law’s baby shower, which was more than two hours ago, you are doing nothing more than helping that officer charge you with DUI, and prove your guilt later on. Give your name and address, politely, and nothing more. If the officer presses you for details, inform him or her you will say nothing more until you have had the opportunity to speak to your attorney.
- Refuse roadside field sobriety tests. There are few, if any, police officers who will tell you field sobriety tests are voluntary. If no video evidence exists, the police officer can rate your performance subjectively—and will. There are many issues associated with field sobriety tests which can totally skewer the results.
- Never consent to a search of your person or your vehicle if that search could be considered unreasonable and a violation of your Constitutional rights.
- Should you decide to consent to a chemical test, you have the right to ask for an independent test of your blood, breath, urine, hair or saliva. Be aware that refusing to take a Georgia BAC test could result in a loss of driver’s license for a full year.
- Always keep documents like your registration and insurance readily accessible. When you are stopped on suspicion of DUI, you are likely to be nervous and even scared. Having to rifle through every possible place in your vehicle or purse those documents could cause even more anxiety. Make it a point to keep the documents in one, easy-to-access place.
- If you see flashing blue lights behind you, find a safe place to pull over (on the right side of the road, whenever possible). Turn on your dome light and place both hands on the steering wheel where they can be seen by the officer.
- If you are absolutely certain you would not test above the legal limit, it can be advantageous to have the stop recorded on video. Many police cars are equipped with video cameras, however officers do not always turn the camera on. If it is not turned on and you believe it will help your case, ask that the video camera be turned on. If a video clearly shows you as composed and articulate, it will be much more difficult to prove you were impaired.
- No matter how nervous you are, do your best to avoid appearing “suspicious.” This means avoiding any action which could suggest you are attempting to hide, destroy or dispose of something. As an example, even the simple act of leaning forward could lead the police officer to believe you hid something under the seat, thus possibly giving sufficient cause for a search of your vehicle.
- No matter how you feel about the officer’s attitude or how he or she is treating you during the stop, be polite and follow instructions. Like it or not, the officer is in charge of your current situation, and until you have permission to drive home—you can’t.
- Every two or three weeks, make sure all the lights on your vehicle are in good working order, that nothing is hanging off of the vehicle and that your license plate and stickers are properly affixed, readable, and current. Avoid loud exhaust pipes and dark, tinted windows and have any windshield cracks or body damage repaired as soon as possible. In other words, ensure there is no reason for an officer to pull you over.
If, despite everything, you are arrested on charges of DUI, don’t leave anything to chance—call Melanie Ellwanger immediately. Melanie is a strong advocate for those who have been arrested for DUI. Melanie understands how anxious you are about your future, andhas a goal of minimizing the short and long-term effects of your arrest, whenever possible. Call Georgia DUI attorney Melanie Ellwanger at 404-803-3105 today for an evaluation of your case and an aggressive defense—your future may depend on it.