How to handle a DUI stop

Published 6:43 pm Thursday, October 4, 2018

mention something in every column that touches on issues related to Driving Under the Influence in Georgia.

If a person drinks and drives, no matter how conservatively, there is a real possibility that they could be stopped, arrested and convicted of drunk driving. Even sober drivers, who have not consumed alcohol or drugs, can find themselves in the middle of a DUI investigation.

There are several things responsible drivers can do to lessen the likelihood of being stopped and charged with DUI:

The Vehicle — Police officers need probable cause to make a traffic stop. Reasons justifying a stop include a traffic violation, an observable defect in the vehicle’s safety equipment, or observing driving that can indicate that the driver may be intoxicated.

Driving Time and Place — While not surprising, based on my experience as a DUI attorney, I have noticed that almost all my clients are pulled over between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

The Traffic Stop — Whether drinking or not, remain calm. Always keep documents like registration and the insurance card in a readily accessible location. When the blue lights go on, find a safe place to pull over. Next, the driver needs to turn on the dome light on and place both hands on the steering wheel where the police officer can see them. This makes the officer more comfortable about her safety and conveys a sense of personal responsibility on the part of the driver. Drivers should always be courteous and polite to the officer.

Any admission, however inconsequential, will be used against the driver. The officer may ask the driver to perform certain physical tests, “just to prove you’re capable of driving safely.” Taking part in these tests will not get you out of the eventual arrest. I cannot remember handling a case when a client “passed” the tests — including sober drivers. You must politely decline all field sobriety tests.

State’s Administered Test —The officer will either read or recite something called the “implied consent notice” after the arrest requesting a sample of the driver’s blood or breath. This is the one aspect of a DUI related traffic stop that I cannot responsibly provide direction on because the best decision regarding whether to take the test depends on the unique circumstances of each stop. However, if a person consents to and takes the officer’s test, he should always request an independent test to be performed at a hospital afterwards. 

The consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe. Be safe on our roads. Know how to handle traffic stops.