It is not unusual for Georgia drivers to get pulled over for a routine traffic stop only to discover the police officer suspects they are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI stops are OFTEN initiated for some reason other than suspicion of DUI including:
If you have been charged with a first or subsequent DUI in the greater Valdosta area or in South Central Georgia, you need a criminal defense lawyer who knows Georgia DUI Law and knows how to evaluate your case and take appropriate steps to obtain the best outcome possible for your case. Click here or call us at (229) 244-7171 to schedule your free consultation.
Here are a few tips in case you are ever pulled over for any reason (not just DUI) in the State of Georgia. While these tips will not guarantee that you will not be charged with DUI or some other traffic offense, you will at least be informed of what is going on during the traffic stop.
While we cannot guarantee being polite and courteous to an officer will change the outcome of a stop, we can certainly guarantee that being rude or disrespectful towards an officer NEVER helps. If you are rude or disrespectful, you can be certain that if there was any goodwill towards you at the beginning of the stop, it will be lost immediately.
Having said that, even if you are nice, we cannot guarantee the officer will not treat you like a criminal. While there is the occasional officer who is simply a jerk, if you are pleasant to deal with, most officers will respond in kind.
It is important to know that you will likely be videotaped during the entire encounter with the officer’s personal body camera or an in-car video camera with a microphone attached to the officer. These videos are VERY IMPORTANT evidence and may be used at trial. Our firm always obtains any available video evidence in your case and we scrutinize them for critical evidentiary purposes to use in your defense. It is hard to overstate the impact that your interaction with the officer can have on a prosecutor, judge or jury when trying to obtain the best outcome possible for your case. If you are hollering or being disrespectful it will be harder for prosecutor or jury to have sympathy.
Many times traffic stops are made at night when officers can’t see inside your vehicle. By keeping your hands visible (preferably on the steering wheel) and by not making any sudden movements, the officer will be less likely to suspect you are hiding something or reaching for a weapon.
Remain in your car, UNTIL the officer asks you to get out. As a general rule, officers are doing everything they can to remain in control of the situation. If you get out of the car before they ask you to get out or you do something unexpected, officers will take measures to “regain” control. Remember, they work in an environment where they deal with bad people every day. Don’t give them a reason to be on edge at the beginning of the stop.
When you roll down your window the officer is using all his senses (especially sight and smell) to determine if there is evidence of alcohol or other illegal substances, like marijuana, either inside your car or coming off your body/breath. Many officers seem to have a “superhero” sense of smell when it comes to smelling alcohol “emanating from a person’s breath or body” or for smelling the presence of raw or smoked marijuana inside your car or on your person.
Be polite BUT brief in your responses. Officers WANT you to talk. If they ask yes/no questions, respectfully answer with yes sir/ma’am or no sir/ma’am. Do not give them more information than they are requesting. If they ask open-ended questions, respond as briefly as possible to answer their question. The more you talk, the more evidence you are giving the officer. While you are talking, the officer is still using his senses to determine if you smell of alcohol or marijuana, to determine if you are slurring your words or moving in a manner that suggests you may be an impaired driver.
Know where your license and registration information is located. When the officer asks for your license and registration the officer is watching for signs of impairment and evaluating your dexterity. Most of us just pile the most recent registration documents “somewhere” in our glove compartments. Just know that the more you search and fumble for this information, the more likely the officer will believe you are impaired (even if that belief is unjustified).
If the officer asks you to step out of the car, the officer is still evaluating you for signs of impairment. The officer is looking to see if you stumble, lose your balance getting out of your car, or use the car for balance and check to see whether you smell of alcohol or other substance when outside the car and whether you sway while you are standing.
Field Sobriety Tests. If the officer suspects you are impaired, the officer will likely ask you to perform some field sobriety tests. (See Blog post on Field Sobriety Tests — Click HERE)
If you have been charged with DUI or other traffic offense in the greater Valdosta area or South Central Georgia, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An experienced DUI attorney can make all the difference between a DUI conviction or acquittal, click here or call us at (229) 244-7171 to schedule your free consultation.