If you have been drinking and are stopped for DUI you should know your rights. Many DUI convictions could have been avoided if only the driver knew what to do, and more importantly, what not to do.
What should I say if I am stopped for DUI?
Do not answer any questions concerning whether you have been drinking. All answers you give to questions about how much you have been drinking are voluntary and can be used against you. Do not make any incriminating admissions. Most drivers who have been stopped for DUI and have been drinking will tell the officer they only had two drinks (they think the officer won’t believe they only had one and they know three drinks might put them over the limit). Even if you only had two drinks, the officer will not believe you. The officer is only asking how much you had to drink to gather evidence to establish probable cause to arrest you.
Do not answer any questions concerning whether you have used any drugs, including prescription drugs. Just because you are on prescription medication does not mean the officer will not use the information to establish probable cause to arrest you.
If you are coming from a bar or party, do not answer questions concerning where you are coming from.
You should answer question concerning your identity, your home address, your driver’s license, proof of insurance, vehicle registration and other non-incriminating general questions.
Should I submit to the officer’s field sobriety evaluations?
Politely decline any request for field sobriety evaluations. All field sobriety evaluations are voluntary and can be used against you. Most drivers believe that if they “pass” the field sobriety evaluations the officer will release them. These evaluations are highly subjective and the officer has usually already made the decision to arrest the driver. In most cases the officer is only looking to gather evidence to establish probable cause to arrest you; don’t help the officer make a DUI case against you.
Politely decline any handheld breath test. The only official State required breath test is the Intoxilyzer 5000, a large machine (the size of a big typewriter) usually at the jail or precinct. All handheld breath testing devices are voluntary with a wide range of error. The results of a handheld breath testing device can be used as probable cause to arrest you and may be used against you in court.
Remember; even if you are under the “legal limit” you may still be arrested for DUI under the less safe provision of the DUI statute. “Passing” the handheld breath test does not mean you get a pass on the DUI arrest.
Should I submit to the required State administered test?
If you are 21 years of age or older, have a valid Georgia driver’s license, were not driving a commercial vehicle, were not in an accident involving death or serious injury, have not had a DUI within the past ten years and are not under the influence of illegal drugs, after the officer has placed you under arrest and read you the Implied Consent warning, submitting to the required State administered test of your blood, breath, or urine may be your best option. Your driver’s license may still be suspended, but you may be eligible for a work permit and early reinstatement.
If you submit to any required State administered test of your blood, breath or urine, always request a private blood test from a hospital. In addition to a private blood test, if you submitted to the required State administered breath test on the Intoxilyzer 5000, you should also wish to request a separate private breath test from another Intoxilyzer 5000 at another precinct. You will have to pay for all private tests and the tests need to be done immediately in order for them to benefit you in court later. You cannot wait until you have made bail to get a blood or breath test.
After submitting to the State test, if the officer refuses your request for a private test, make sure you obtain the identity of any witnesses to the officer’s refusal. Do not allow the officer to talk you out of the private test(s).
Do I have a right to an attorney when I am stopped for DUI?
No. The Law in Georgia does not provide for the right to an attorney when a person is initially stopped for DUI, but an officer may allow you to call one. My friends & clients carry my business card on them whenever they go out. Feel free to call me for one of my cards; you never know when you may need to get in touch with a good DUI Lawyer.
• What will happen if I refuse the State's chemical test?
If you refuse the required State administered test of your blood, breath, or urine, your license may be administratively suspended for 1 year. This suspension is a “hard” suspension, meaning that you will not be eligible for a work permit or early reinstatement of your driving privileges. If you are served with a DDS Form 1205 Suspension Notice (also known as a 30 day temporary driving permit), within 10 business days of your arrest you must request a hearing in writing to include your defenses. Otherwise the suspension goes into effect at the end of the 30 day temporary driving permit. This suspension may be rescinded upon acquittal of the DUI or a negotiated plea to reduced non-DUI charges.
• Does an officer have to give me a Miranda Warning?
No. An officer does not have to give a Miranda Warning unless the officer questions you about the alleged crime after having placed you under arrest. That is why officers will ask you questions about whether you have been drinking and whether you will submit to their Field Sobriety Evaluations before placing you under arrest.
• What is the 10 Day Rule?
If you refused the required State administered test or if you submitted to the required State administered test of your blood, breath, or urine and your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was d above the legal limit (0.08 or higher for 21 or over drivers; 0.02 or higher for drivers under 21; 0.04 or higher for commercial drivers), your license may be administratively suspended for up to one year. If you are served with a DDS Form 1205 Suspension Notice (also known as a 30 day temporary driving permit), within 10 business days of your arrest you must request a hearing in writing to include your defenses. Otherwise the suspension goes into effect at the end of the 30 day temporary driving permit.
• Can I get a Work Permit?
Everyone who pleads guilty or is found guilty of DUI will have their driver's license suspended. Under certain circumstances, you may qualify for a work permit to drive and/or early reinstatement of your license. In certain administrative license suspensions you may also be eligible for a work permit and early reinstatement of your license.