Most stops are a result of seeing a traffic violation but I should mention that the officer could be doing a wellness check on a parked car, be it in a parking lot and/or on the side of the road. That would be typically a valid basis for the encounter. The other way they could encounter you without doing a traffic stop would be after an accident and/or a roadblock. Now, roadblocks, there’s a whole different sub-category of case law that explains what makes a roadblock valid and obviously if there was an accident, they have a basis to stop you or was the already stopped, so it’s not technically a stop.
Outside of those three things, roadblock, parked vehicle or an accident, they’re stopping you because of a traffic violation. Now, what that traffic violation was, that will depend on the extent of — obviously the more severe the traffic infraction the more evidence of impairment and obviously you don’t know that when you’re being pulled over but once the blue lights are activated, the officer is looking for additional clues of impairment like how you break, how do you use your signal to get over, do you do so safely, are there other driving infractions that occur after the blue lights come on? Those are all additional indicators of impairment. Then you’re looking at the face-to-face interaction, license registration, that initial interaction and then you would move on to the field sobriety evaluations and subsequently an arrest. Then you would get into the applied consent, which must be read and then the blood, breath or urine testing post-arrest. That’s a typical timeline but yes, if somebody calls me, the first thing I want to know is why were you stopped, the second thing you want to know is did you take a test? Those are the two things that I need to know right off-the-bat.
The DUI investigation starts of just like any other traffic offense. You get pulled over for speeding and the initial encounters are going to be the same as if you’re pulled over for speeding but they suspect DUI, you don’t know they suspect DUI at first. So you’re going to have to treat it like any other traffic stop and the officer will as well. License and registration, that does have to be turned over because you do have to prove that you have the right to drive in the state of Georgia and so they’ll run your license and that you have registration and insurance as well. So you got to have those three things, license, registration and insurance to validly drive in the state of Georgia.
And you can hand those three things over and not say a word. You don’t have to say anything, you don’t have to do anything besides provide those documents which they can run and those should be self-explanatory as to whether or not you’re entitled to drive. If you don’t say anything else, as a DUI attorney, yes, I don’t want you to give the officer anymore evidence but honestly, if you don’t say anything, they’re going to treat it as suspicious and they’re probably going to arrest you. So it’s not going to stop the arrest, it’s just going to make the DUI itself way easier if they don’t have any statements, they don’t have any testing, they don’t have anything to use against you, we can get that DUI most of the times thrown out because there’s just not sufficient evidence to prove impairment.
So you do have to provide those certain things but outside of that, you can refuse, expect to be arrested but you should also expect that your case will be much easier to beat.
It depends on if you’ve been arrested previously for a DUI and whether there were previous suspensions and that is a five-year look-back period based on the offense date, not when you were convicted or not when the suspension went into effect, it would be based on the arrest date and/or the offense date. So assuming it’s your first offense or for instance, if you want, you can contest it, you have 30 days to file the notice of appeal to contest it but if you lose the appeal, you are looking at a potential one-year hard suspension if you refused the test. That is, no limited permit, which would be called a soft suspension. It is a hard suspension for one year. The only way to get out of that is first of win the appeal, which the suspension wouldn’t go into effect unless you actually loss the appeal and/or beat the case like beat the criminal case itself, which is separate from the license case but if you were to get the criminal conviction or criminal charge reduced and/or beat it at trial within that one year, then the suspension would go away.
But other than that, it’s a one-year hard suspension, so you better either got to file the appeal, you got to try to beat it and if you don’t win the appeal, then you got to try to win the criminal case as quickly as possible or else, you’re just going to be without a license for the entire 12 months.
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