Things to Remember to Avoid a DUI Conviction
Driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants that impair your ability is a violation of law in all 50 states and Washington, DC. In Georgia, A DUI charge can result in severe consequences — including huge fines and fees and even jail time — that will impact you and your loved ones. And the lingering effects may also affect other areas of your life, including your ability to get or keep a job. That said, you can take steps to get DUI charges reduced or even possibly be found not guilty.
Be careful about what you say. Remember that anything you say to, or when in the presence of, the officer who stopped you will be used against you in court.
Never admit to drinking
Never admit to drinking, even if you have been. You will get no “credit” for disclosing information and will likely not be believed in any event since everyone seems to admit to a “couple of beers.” Even if the officer comments on smelling the odor of alcohol on your breath, do not take the bait and confirm his observations by an admission. That will undoubtedly be used as evidence against you.
Do not explain
Resist the temptation to explain to the officer where or what you have been doing. At this stage of the stop, it is none of his business! The officer hopes you will say something dumb: “Oh, I’ve just been down at the bar with my buddies, hanging out.” Saying something like, “I have been tending to my business and personal affairs, Officer,” is much less incriminating!
When responding to the officer, use head nods, hand motions, hand signals, or signs instead of speaking aloud. You will be accused of having thick-tongued, slurred speech regardless of how well you speak anyway, so why should you talk? It may cause you to feel awkward, but you will not hurt your case nearly as much as you might otherwise. Besides, this will eliminate any slurred speech that might be there!
Field sobriety test
Never agree to submit to so-called “field sobriety tests or exercises!!” As a Certified Instructor of these tests, I can tell you, you would not likely be able to pass these tests cold sober, in your own home. Want to try? Get the instructions on this site and have at it! The tests are designed to make you look silly, and the officer looks good!
Politely decline these tests by nodding no when asked. These tests are entirely voluntary, not mandatory. The officer will likely threaten to arrest you if you do not cooperate. Understand this: there is a much greater risk that he will make that arrest and have the evidence he needs after you perform these tests, so do not do them.
Roadside breath test
Unless you have had no alcohol and have not used an asthma inhaler in the past 30 minutes, do not submit to the roadside breath test requested by the officer. This pre-screening test performed on an “alcosensor” can detect the presence of alcohol and give the officer an estimate of the amount of alcohol concentration in your blood, even though that number is inadmissible in court. The officer will likely say, “let me just check and see if you are OK to drive home.” Don’t bet on it! Again, this test is strictly voluntary, so politely decline or nod “no” to his request.
Ask the officer to return your license and allow you to leave. After handing over the license and registration, if the officer says you violated traffic laws, ask that he give you the citation and allow you to leave. If he says you are impaired, indicate you will get a ride or take a taxi. If the officer will not let you depart, or return your license, consider yourself under arrest and ask for an attorney! You won’t get one, but the evidence will mount in your favor if you do the suggested things. Issues of probable cause will interest your lawyer, so get a lawyer that very night.
Do not submit
Unless you can answer “yes” to every one of the following questions, do not submit to official Georgia Implied Consent Tests of breath, blood, or urine:
- Are you over 21 years of age?
- Are you a non-commercial driver?
- Do you have a Georgia driver’s license?
- You have NOT been involved in an accident where a serious injury has occurred to any person or where death may occur due to such injuries sustained in this accident
If these questions must be answered with a “No, ” consider refusing testing. This state test is voluntary, even though the officer may say that Georgia law “requires” you to be tested. Your consent is “presumed,” but you may withdraw that consent by stating that you refuse such testing.
Independent Blood Test
Ask for an independent test of your blood. The police may attempt to talk you out of it, indicating that you “must do this” or that “it won’t do much good,” but get it done anyway. Remember, this is your test. All that needs to happen is that the blood is drawn for legal purposes and preserved and stored at the hospital or other facility. DO NOT get a medical blood test! That is a different test. Ask that the officer allow you to make calls to arrange funds if not readily available. This independent test may be evidence of your innocence; if not helpful, the police will never see it.
Call your lawyer FIRST
When making your call from the jail, call your lawyer first. If you forget, tell your family to call the lawyer BEFORE they leave to go to jail. Lawyers doing DUI defense work are a lot like gynecologists. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. So, if your lawyer or doctor says, “call me in the morning,” you might want to get another doctor or lawyer. When you need one, you need one.
Like the doctor, your lawyer can make additional calls to set things in action and make significant and helpful things happen in your case. What is essential in the DUI case is that the attorney can immediately begin gathering evidence and names of witnesses and making arrangements that may assist you in defending your case. Even the following day might not be too late for a blood test. Even other people in jail can testify regarding your sobriety or how the officer treated you.
10-day right to request a hearing
Learn your 10-day right to request a hearing on the DMVS 1205 Suspension Notice you are issued as a “temporary driving permit.” It is much more than that, and that difference will hurt you if you ignore, don’t read and understand and make that written request properly.
Find a competent attorney
This secret is a little tricky for some folks, but here it is, very few of the lawyers who advertise they practice DUI defense are up to competently defending a driver charged with DUI. Big yellow page ads and popularity often spell a volume practice that spells high percentages of guilty pleas.
Fewer than two percent of lawyers advertising practice in DUI defense attended ANY advanced level DUI defense continuing legal education courses or seminars in this highly complicated and specialized field of criminal law. It is safe to say that it would take a conscientious and thoroughly competent DUI lawyer at least an hour to evaluate your case and medical history.
In most cases, the lawyer will suggest “talking” to the judge or prosecutor for you for a substantial fee. These cases invariably end up as guilty pleas! Many such cases would have been very defendable. If the lawyer you are talking to has concluded ANYTHING about your case in a 15-minute interview, I highly recommend you get a second opinion, regardless of the suggestion or recommendation.
Why are you here?
You have found one of the most comprehensive DUI information websites on the internet; typically, four different kinds of people come to this site:
- People who have been arrested for DUI
- People who are just curious about the topic of DUI
- Police or law enforcement officers trying to keep up
- A legal professional who defends DUI case
If you fall into categories 2,3, and 4, browse the site at your convenience. But if you (or someone you care about) are in Category 1 and have been recently arrested, act now to protect your rights.