Driving under the influence (DUI) checks are a reality on today's roads, and it's vital to be informed about your rights and best practices if you're pulled over. This guide will shed light on the immediate steps you should consider taking if you're stopped for a DUI, ensuring you are respectful, knowledgeable, and protective of your rights.
The Importance of Being Polite
You Are Likely Being Recorded
Always assume that any interaction with law enforcement, especially during a DUI stop, will be recorded both in audio and video formats. This evidence can be reviewed by various parties later, from the police department to lawyers and possibly even a jury.
Your Behavior Reflects on You
Being polite doesn't just make the situation more manageable; it speaks volumes about your character and demeanor. Any form of rudeness or aggression can harm your image and could be used against you in court proceedings.
Field Sobriety Tests – Know Your Rights
Understanding Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests (FST) are a set of physical exercises and observations that police use to determine impairment due to alcohol or drugs. The most common of these tests is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test – often referred to as the "eye test".
To Agree or Not to Agree
Here's where knowledge becomes power. While it might seem natural to comply with all of an officer's requests during a DUI stop, when it comes to field sobriety tests, you have the right to refuse. These tests include the previously mentioned HGN test and any others the officer might request.
Implications of Refusing Field Sobriety Tests in Georgia
In Georgia, a unique law provision stipulates that if you refuse to undergo a field sobriety test, this refusal cannot be used against you in court. This means that a jury won't even know about your refusal, let alone hold it against you. By not performing these tests, you limit the amount of evidence that can be collected and potentially used against you during any trial or hearing.
Making Informed Decisions When Stopped for DUI
Remember Your Right to Remain Silent
Apart from basic information, you're under no obligation to answer any incriminating questions. Politely but firmly assert your right to remain silent if pressed for details that you believe could be used against you.
Consultation with an Attorney
If you're arrested or feel that your rights are being violated, request to speak with an attorney before answering any further questions. Legal representation ensures that you're not unintentionally incriminating yourself and that your rights are preserved.
Compliance Doesn't Mean Confession
It's essential to understand that while you should always be polite and cooperative, compliance doesn't equate to admitting guilt. Follow officers' direct commands, such as stepping out of the vehicle or providing identification. Still, always be aware of your rights and make informed decisions about what further actions you will or will not take.
Being stopped for a DUI can be a nerve-wracking experience, but understanding your rights and the legal landscape can significantly aid in navigating the situation. Always remember the importance of being polite, especially since you're likely being recorded. Be aware of your rights concerning field sobriety tests, especially in states like Georgia where refusal can't be held against you.
If you find yourself facing DUI charges or need further advice on the topic, always consult with a legal professional. Feel free to contact Brett Willis Law today for more assistance and information.