Many of us have misconceptions about what you should and should not do when you are pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI is a serious offense and can have a severe long-term impact on your life if you are convicted. Knowing your rights when you are stopped for DUI could help lower your chances of facing a life-changing criminal conviction. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, contact the Don Turner Legal Team today for a free consultation. Our attorneys are standing by to help and can offer both virtual and in-person consultations.
If You are Stopped for DUI, Always…
- Know your limits: If you feel that you are too intoxicated to drive, do not attempt to get behind the wheel. Instead, call a taxi or use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft, which you can download onto your phone for free. Twenty dollars for a ride home is nothing compared to the thousands of dollars you will owe if you are convicted of driving under the influence.
- Keep copies of your receipts and bar tabs: This will help verify how much alcohol you consumed, what type of alcohol it was, and what your blood alcohol content can be. Devices like breathalyzers have a margin of error and can produce an inaccurate BAC level.
- Have your license, registration, and proof of insurance: It is standard procedure to provide the officer with these documents, and you shouldn’t fight them on it or delay to produce them when requested. Do not move to retrieve them before you are told to do so, as this could lead to the officer viewing you as a threat. Although you must have proof of insurance to register a Georgia license plate on your vehicle, you should still carry a copy of it, along with your license and registration so you can hand them over when asked.
- Pull over quickly and safely: Make sure to pull over using your turn signal and come to a complete stop. Remember that when you are pulled over for driving under the influence, everything about your behavior is being recorded by the police, including how you were driving before coming to a stop.
- Be polite and respectful: Again, remember that your behavior is being recorded. If you are belligerent and uncooperative with the police, this will be held against you. It is very likely that the state will focus on your bad conduct during the stop at your trial and use this as a reason to convict you. Being polite and cooperative during your DUI stop can help you avoid a conviction later.
- Exercise your right to remain silent: Everything you say during your stop is being recorded, and any statement you make can be held against you later. Choose your words very carefully and do not engage in any sort of discourse with law enforcement until you have hired a criminal defense attorney. Only answer questions regarding your name, your address, and your background.
- Call your lawyer: Driving under the influence is not a charge to take lightly. You will want a defense attorney with years of experience defending clients charged with DUI. That’s why you should contact the Don Turner Legal Team.
When Stopped for DUI, Never…
- Exit the car until directed to do so: Getting out of the vehicle prematurely can lead an officer to view you as a potential threat. Once the officer asks you to exit your vehicle, you should do so immediately. Refusing to do so can also lead to you being viewed as a threat by law enforcement, which could lead to you facing further criminal charges.
- Lean against the car: Leaning against your vehicle or otherwise using it for support can be interpreted as a sign of intoxication by the police officer and used against you later.
- Answer questions about whether you were drinking or where you were: While ‘have you been drinking’ is a harmless question on its surface, your response can be used to incriminate you. If you have been drinking, do not lie by denying this. You are better off not answering.
- Blow into a hand-held Alcosensor unit: Blowing into an Alcosensor is voluntary. You do not have to do this, and you shouldn’t, because the Alcosensor is not a reliable piece of technology and can produce false positives from residual mouth alcohol and chemicals similar to ethyl alcohol.
- Agree to perform field sobriety exercises: While police can order you to exit your vehicle, they cannot make you perform field sobriety testing. This includes the one leg stand, the walk and turn test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The evaluation of these tests is entirely subjective. They’re also biased, since they’re being administered by an officer who believes you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Do not consent to taking these tests.
What About Chemical Testing?
Georgia law requires drivers to submit to chemical testing of breath, blood, or urine. It is usually a good idea to submit to these tests, as refusal carries a penalty of a one-year license suspension. Remember that you have a right to a test of your choice at your expense. There are times when it may be to your advantage to refuse, such as an accident resulting in death or injury, numerous prior DUIs, or severe intoxication. However, in the absence of these circumstances, it is advised that you take the chemical test.