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DUI Stops

During a DUI stop in Georgia, the driver has no right to ask to speak to a lawyer. The officer asks the person how much they had to drink, where they are coming from, and things of that nature. Those are the initial questions.

The three standardized field sobriety tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand. Many officers also ask for a handheld breath test which is called an Alco-Sensor or a portable breath test (PBT).

If you have been recently suspected of a DUI in Atlanta, an experienced DUI lawyer can help you create your defense. An Atlanta lawyer who knows the local laws regarding Atlanta DUI stops can give you clarify how to proceed with your case.

Phases of a DUI Stop

There are different phases to Atlanta DUI stops. The first phase is called vehicle in motion, which is where the officer wants to observe or detect the reasons for the actual manner of driving.

Phase two is called personal contact and is a decision point where the officer asks the person to step out of the vehicle. The officer looks for bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, the odor of alcohol, unsteadiness on the person’s feet, and a hard time getting their license out.

Phase three focuses on the standardized field sobriety test or different types of field sobriety tests the officer conducts. They include the walk and turn, the one-leg stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus.

Searching a Vehicle

Every officer wants to search the vehicle during an Atlanta DUI stop, but they cannot do so unless they arrest somebody, have probable cause, have consented to search, or a warrant. A police officer should ask permission to search someone’s vehicle after they are pulled over for a traffic stop prior to being arrested or prior to the officer having probable cause. However, if an officer smells marijuana coming from a car, consent is no longer needed. It can be burnt or unburnt marijuana, but consent is out the window, there is no need for consent at that point.

Implied Consent

Implied consent is in derogation of common law. Each state wants to make somebody agree to take a blood, breath, urine, or chemical test. When someone gets a driver’s license the implied consent statute states that by driving a vehicle a person agrees to submit to a state measured chemical test of the person’s blood, breath, or urine to determine drug or alcohol content. The states give the person the right to refuse the chemical test, but that refusal can be used against them in terms of a penalty to suspend their driver’s license.

Upon arrest, every DUI case is subject to implied consent. Implied consent involves an administrative license suspension which can take place for refusing the test or taking a chemical test and having the results come back above the legal limit. The person has implied by driving, to consent to take the test. Consequently, the person’s refusal can bring about penalties, as can a test result above the legal limit. Every case involves implied consent. In Georgia, the officer reads a card to inform a person about the consequences of their acceptance or refusal of the test. An officer is not allowed to explain implied consent, they can simply read the card.

NHTSA Cues for Impairment

There are different cues of Atlanta driving impairment under the NHSTSA. A person can be pulled over for a specific traffic offense if the officer believes the person is in violation of or about to violate the law. NHTSA has 20 cues of impairment including weaving, weaving across lane lines, straddling a lane line, swerving, turning with a wide radius, drifting, and almost striking an object or vehicle. When a police officer pulls someone over, it is often for these reasons:

  • Stopping problems: too far, too short, too jerky
  • Accelerating or decelerating rapidly in varying speeds
  • Slow speed 10 miles and under the limit
  • Driving in opposing lanes or wrong way on a one-way street
  • Slow response to traffic signals
  • Slow or failure to respond to officer signals
  • Stopping in a lane for no apparent reason

Additional NHTSA cues are:

  • Driving without headlights at night
  • Failure to signal or signal inconsistent with the person’s driving actions
  • Following too closely
  • Improper or unsafe lane change
  • Illegal or improper turn
  • Driving on other than a designated roadway
  • Stopping and inappropriately response to an officer
  • Inappropriate of unusual behavior
  • Throwing objects
  • Arguing
  • Appearing to be impaired

Anyone facing charges after an accusation of driving under the influence in Atlanta should speak with a lawyer who can give them peace of mind regarding the outcome of their case.

Common Mistakes

One of the biggest mistakes to avoid in Atlanta DUI stops is speaking too much. It is impolite if the person acts like a jerk, acts intoxicated, starts screaming at the officer and is belligerent. People may not realize that everything they say is probably on video tape or audio tape. It is most important to realize that anything the person says is going to be seen by people later. People do not realize that they do not have to submit to field sobriety tests.

Legal Rights

Miranda rights are not applicable in Atlanta DUI stops. The person has the right to refuse all state administered chemical tests; they are not obligated to do them. The person is not obligated to do the state administered field tests. There is no penalty to decline to take the field sobriety tests, but there are penalties if the person refuses the state administered chemical test.

The person has no rights during or immediately after a DUI arrest. They either take the blood, breath, or urine test or they do not. The person does not have the right to call a lawyer. The only right a person has is the right to remain silent. The State does have the right to seek a search warrant.

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