1) What do police officers look for when
trying to find drunk drivers on the roadway?
The following list of clues indicate what
police look for when trying to establish whether the driver being
observed is impaired. The higher the clue is on the list, the
higher the probability of impairment. The list is based on research
by the National Highway Traffic Administration:
* (1) Turning with a wide radius
* (2) Straddling center of lane marker
* (3) "Appearing to be drunk"
* (4) Almost striking object or vehicle
* (5) Weaving
* (6) Driving on other than designated highway
* (7) Swerving
* (8) Speed more than 10 mph below limit
* (9) Stopping without reason in traffic
* (10) Following too closely
* (11) Drifting
* (12) Tires on center or lane marker
* (13) Braking erratically
* (14) Driving into opposing or crossing
* (15) Signaling inconsistent with driving
* (16) Slow response to traffic signals
* (17) Stopping inappropriately
* (18) Turning abruptly or illegally
* (19) Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
* (20) Driving with headlights off
Surprisingly, speeding is not a clue of insobriety.
This is because studies show that a person who speeds often exhibits
signs of heightened awareness in the form of quicker judgment
2) If I'm stopped by the police, should
I answer any questions regarding drinking?
Citizens are not required to answer questions
that are designed to be incriminating. In a police encounter,
a simple request to speak to your attorney before answering questions,
would be an appropriate response. However, informing the officer
that you had one or two beers should not be harmful since it usually
would not cause a person to be impaired. This response may explain
away the odor of alcohol on a driver's breath.
3) What signs of insobriety do police
look for after stopping a citizen on the roadside?
The most common symptoms of impairment taught
at police training classes are:
* (1) Flushed face
* (2) Red, watery, glassy or bloodshot eyes
* (3) Odor of alcohol on breath
* (4) Slurred Speech
* (5) Fumbling with wallet while trying to
* (6) Failure to comprehend officer's questions
* (7) Unsteady of feet while exiting vehicle
* (8) Swaying while standing
* (9) Leaning on car for support
* (10) Being combative, argumentative or jovial
while talking with officer
* (11) Disheveled clothing
* (12) Lack of awareness in regards to time
* (13) Unable to follow police instructions.
4) Do citizens have a right to an attorney
when they are stopped for a DUI investigation?
The law in Georgia provides that persons stopped
for DUI initially do not have the right to an attorney.
In fact, you don't have a right to speak to a lawyer until after
the initial investigation on the street is complete and you have
been taken to jail. Most citizens do not understand that after
their arrest, they are not entitled to speak to a lawyer
when confronted with the decision of taking or refusing a blood,
breath or urine test. Keep in mind, however, that it may still
be a good idea to request a lawyer when you are first stopped
by the police. This is because some police officers will let you
call a lawyer prior to having the right to do so.
5) What should I do if the police ask
me to take field sobriety tests?
Understand that the police want you to help
them make their case against you stronger. By performing field
tests, you are simply helping the police manufacture evidence
against you. Be aware that they fully intend on using this evidence
against you in court . Therefore, taking an eye test, balancing
test, or any other evaluation on the street is usually not a good
idea. Most experts agree that police officers are not well trained
enough to accurately interpret the symptoms observed while administering
these street evaluations. This doesn't mean that you need to
be rude or nasty to an officer if he asks you to do a field sobriety
test. Instead, its a good idea to " respectfully decline"
all tests on the roadside.
6) Should I take a blood, breath or urine
test down at the station? What will happen if I refuse?
Many lawyers agree that the above tests are
not completely accurate and therefore should not be taken. However,
if you agree to take one of these chemical tests for the police,
remember that you are then entitled to your own independent
tests. This means that the police are required to transport you
to a medical facility of your own choosing for the purpose of
obtaining an independent test. Keep in mind, however, if you
refuse a chemical test after being arrested, you risk losing your
drivers license for one year. If you do refuse to take the test
that the police offer, you only have 10 days to request a special
hearing to fight the one year suspension. Therefore, calling a
DUI lawyer immediately after your arrest is important !
7) What are the consequences if I cooperate and enter a plea of guilty in court?
The new DUI laws in Georgia require jail time
for a first DUI offense. This jail time is mandatory, and therefore,
the judge has no choice but to include it in your sentence if
you plead guilty. This strict law is causing many Georgia citizens
to take an aggressive stance in court. Another down side to cooperating
and pleading guilty, is that your license will be suspended for
one year. Other consequences include, high insurance rates, a
criminal record, and compromising future job prospects. Because
of the new harsh law in Georgia, it is very important to speak
to an experienced DUI lawyer before you decide what to do in court.
8) Will my case get dismissed if the officer
doesn't give me a Miranda warning?
Georgia law does not require the police to
give a Miranda warning to a DUI suspect during the officer's initial
investigation of the crime. Miranda warnings are only required
if the officer interrogates a suspect after the arrest. Put simply,
any incriminating statements that you make to police in response
to questioning after you're placed in custody and without the
benefit of a Miranda warning, are not admissible in court. As
a general rule, it is not a good idea to say anything incriminating
to the police before, during or after your arrest.
9) What is the 10 day rule?
If you refuse to take a blood, breath or urine
test, then you are facing a one year suspension of your drivers
license in Georgia. In order to avoid this nasty one year suspension,
you must request a special hearing in writing to the Georgia Department
of Public Safety. If you fail to request the hearing within 10
business days of your arrest, your license will automatically
be suspended. You should take note that if you do take
a blood, breath or urine test and you score a .10 or higher,
you must also request a hearing within 10 days of your
arrest. Failure to do so will result in a suspended license.
10) Is it possible to win a DUI case in court?
There are about 60,000 DUI arrests in Georgia
annually. Of course not all of these arrests are legitimate. The
police are often overzealous and this sometimes results in a
bad arrest. Since there are many legitimate defenses to this
crime, a qualified DUI defense lawyer can often help you get your
charges dismissed. If you feel that you were falsely accused
by the police or just not treated fairly, then you should call
my office immediately.
24 HR DUI INFOLINE
Toll Free: 888-38-COURT
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© 2001 Law Office of George Stein