5 Simple Tips for Minimizing Trouble in a DUI Stop
I hope that none of you are in the unfortunate and ridiculously stressful circumstance of undergoing a DUI investigation in Georgia, but if you are, I think there are some basic “rules” that you should follow. All too often, I hear lawyers and clients say that people should always refuse field sobriety testing. That sort of advice can be dangerous. That sort of categorical answer causes some people to suffer a lot of avoidable stress. I think these tips might help you avoid some trouble:
- Always be courteous and respectful. You may disagree with an officer’s decision, but I can assure you that you won’t change his/her mind on the roadside, and the respect that you show him/her can make a tremendous difference in the result in your case.
- An officer is not required to inform you that field sobriety tests are voluntary. Generally, an officer will ask you if you would like to perform them, but the statement can be more of a declaration than a question. Usually, it sounds something like this: “I’d like for you to submit to some tests to determine if you are safe to drive.” It is your responsibility to decline the tests, if you wish to do so. Consider how you would respond before you are under the pressure of that questioning. Be respectful, but never hesitate to ask an officer if you are required to submit to a test (or tests). Good things frequently happen as a result of these questions.
- Submit to roadside breath testing. I differ from some lawyers on this issue, but I strongly recommend that people submit to roadside breath testing (which is different from the blood, breath, or urine test given after arrest). The roadside breath test is only admissible to show whether you were positive or negative for alcohol, and the results may lead to your release. In short, the possible benefit is so much greater than the possible harm that I think submitting to the roadside/preliminary breath test is something we should do.
- If in doubt, do not submit field sobriety tests. If you refuse field sobriety testing, you’ll almost certainly be arrested, but if you are doubtful about how you’ll do on the balance, coordination, and memory tests, your performance on the tests will probably lead to an arrest anyways.
- Don’t talk about your rights on the roadside. In Georgia, our courts have repeatedly said that we don’t have the right to a lawyer during a DUI investigation (or even prior to the submission to the state-administered blood, breath, or urine test). Talking about your rights will only hurt your case in front of a jury. Talk like a normal person, and most normal people are scared and uncertain of their rights (see #2 above: never hesitate to ask questions about what you are and are not required to do, but be respectful).
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