The first step taken in a DUI investigation is normally when the officer monitors your driving behavior. The police officer is taught to be on the lookout for some particular clues that a driver under the influence is certain to display. These clues include driving outside the lane, reckless driving, driving without headlights, improper turns, unsafe lane changes, striking or almost striking objects, problems stopping, slow response to traffic signals, erratic speed changes, weaving, and making wide turns.
The officer can also initiate an encounter with you because of a simple traffic offense like an equipment violation, an accident, or speeding.
The officer must believe that you have already violated a traffic rule, or the officer has reasonable suspicion that a thorough drunk driving investigation will visibly show you are intoxicated. The officer’s report as well as the police cruiser video will be reviewed by a Georgia DUI attorney to ascertain if the traffic stop is really justified.
Evidence Compiled During An Arrest
Before pulling you over and initiating direct contact, the police officer will pay attention to any problems you have acknowledging the cruiser light, and how comfortable you are pulling your vehicle off the road. The officer will keep looking for signs that you are intoxicated while approaching your vehicle.
Evidence like the condition of your eyes, the condition of your clothes, your attitude, the odor of alcohol, the manner of your speech, and your coordination when providing your license will all be taken into account. The officer must have reasonable suspicion of drunk driving to continue a DUI investigation. The officer’s criminal discovery will be reviewed from the prosecuting lawyer by a lawyer to ascertain if the continued detention was justified.
This is the stage put in place to help the officer get key clues if you are under the influence, or are likely to likely test over the legal alcohol limit with a breathalyzer. Usually, an officer will approach your vehicle and ask for your name, driver’s license, and proof of insurance.
Depending on your responses and your manner of speech, the officer may ask you to step out of your car and walk over to a safer area. You may be asked to blow into a portable breathalyzer machine that records your blood alcohol content, or BAC level. If the reading is above the Georgia legal BAC limit of 0.08%, the officer will continue the investigation.
Note that an officer will continue towards the path of arrest even if your BAC is under 0.08%. This is true for several reasons. First, if you are under 21, the legal BAC limit drops to 0.02%. For a commercial CDL driver, the limit is 0.04%. A reading anywhere below the legal limit for your age group and driver type can still land you in jail because in Georgia you can be charged with DUI Less Safe.
This means that even though your BAC is within “legal” limits, the officer can make the call that due to drinking or taking drugs, you are “less safe” to drive.
Field Sobriety Testing
After an officer tests your breath, he or she will ask you to perform roadside agility tests. The standard Georgia field sobriety tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus where you follow a pen or any other stimulus with your eyes, the one leg stand for thirty seconds, and the walk and turn test (walk nine steps, take a turn, and walk back). You are not legally required to carry out these tests. They are VOLUNTARY. The police video recording of your performance will be reviewed by an attorney to ascertain how ably you performed each test, and how well the officer instructed you on how to perform each one.
Evidence During Arrest Process
After these tests, if the officer’s conclusion is that you are intoxicated, you will be placed under arrest and handcuffed. Before an officer can arrest you, the officer must have gathered reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated. The conclusion is grounded on the whole situation and all evidence showing indication you are intoxicated is considered.
The evidence will be reviewed by an attorney to ascertain if your continued detention was justified. The officer MUST read the Georgia Implied Consent notice to you in a timely manner after you have been handcuffed.
We have won tough cases where we proved that an officer unduly delayed the reading of this advisement.
After your arrest, you will be transported to the police station or a medical facility to undergo a DUI blood test. Your initial portable breathalyzer result cannot be admitted as evidence in court, so a blood test is ordered so that an official BAC level can be submitted to the prosecutor.
You may refuse to take the blood test, but doing so means an automatic suspension of your driver’s license because when you were issued a driver’s license, you gave your “implied consent” that you agreed to be tested for impaired driving.
In some situations, your blood may be drawn involuntarily.
The arresting officer is likely to question you about the entire incident. These questions will be asked from the moment an officer approaches your vehicle, while being transported to jail, and even after you arrive for booking. It is a very good idea to remain silent. If your decision is not to answer any questions, tell the officer in a polite manner that you don’t want to discuss the incident.
Typical questions include where you were going, have you been drinking, and how much did you have to drink. Do not answer these incriminating questions. They are being recorded and used to build a solid drunk driving case against you.