DUIs are sort of the great equalizer. They have humbled men and women from all walks of life, from all generations, and from each end of the political spectrum. DUI cops do not care what your last name is, who your daddy is, or where you come from. DUI laws do not favor the rich or poor and a DUI arrest can strike at any time.
I have seen DUIs given at obvious time like midnight on Saturday right outside of a local bar. I've also seen them given in local parking lots on a Monday morning.
All of these situations lead me to the most popular question I am asked by friends and family.
If I am Stopped for DUI, Should I Blow?
I will tell you what I tell them. Every case is different and I can't give you certain legal advice in a hypothetical or, in this case, on the internet. But, what I can do is give you some information that will help you make these tough decisions. There are typically two different types of testing that occur (or police request) during a DUI stop. One type of test is the Field Sobriety Tests. The other type of tests are chemical tests.
Field Sobriety Tests
The field sobriety tests are designed to be divided attention tests. The theory is that a test that requires you to divide your attention is the best option for deciding whether you can safely operate a vehicle that requires you to focus on various things at once. There are quite a few field sobriety tests, but all of them are designed to fail you.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test:
In the HGN test, the officer observes the eyes of a suspect as the suspect follows a slowly moving object such as a pen or small flashlight, horizontally with his eyes. Horizontal gaze nystagmus is a movement of the eye which occurs as the eyes move from side to side. Normally, nystagmus occurs when the eyes are rotated at high peripheral angles. Supposedly, someone who is under the influence will have a more difficult time following the pen or flashlight without involuntary movement of the eyes. The examiner looks for three indicators of impairment in each eye: if the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly, if jerking is distinct and sustained nystagmus when the eye is at maximum deviation, or if the angle of onset of jerking is prior to 45 degrees of center.
Walk and Turn Test:
This test has two parts. First, you are given instruction. Second, you must perform according to the instructions that you were given.
You will be instructed to take a certain number of steps heel-to-toe, be given specific instructions on how to spin around, then you are taking a certain number of steps back, heel-to-toe. You are not to raise your arms. You are to look at your feet. You are to count out loud.
If you mess any of this up. For instance, let's say you take 10 steps instead of nine, then you will be considered as failing the test. (Secret: these tests are designed to fail). Don't forget that these tests will occur on the side of the road with blue lights flashing and the pressure of a looming DUI arrest.
One-Leg Stand Test
So, part of this test is self-explanatory. You must stand on one leg. You must keep the other foot about six inches off of the ground. Further, you must count out loud until the cop tells you to quit. You are are also supposed to keep your arms down and your eyes up (remember when I told you these were designed to fail you).
Georgia has what is called implied consent. The theory of this law is that by driving on the roads in Georgia you have implicitly consented to chemical testing to determine whether or not you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
This is one of the most intensely litigated areas of the law in Georgia and it is constantly changing and updating.
The long and short of it is that cops will read off a card the Georgia implied consent notice. Then, they will ask if you consent to either a) a blood test or 2) a breath test.
You do not have to participate in either one of these tests. If you refuse these tests, however, you will be facing a license suspension of one year in an administrative proceeding that is separate and distinct from the criminal case. You can appeal this suspension but you only have 30 days. If you were arrested for DUI talk to a lawyer (whether it is us or someone else) ASAP and make sure they can help save your license.
The law becomes increasingly complicated as we discuss how refusing these tests could impact your criminal case. Generally, if you refuse the breath test then the prosecutors cannot use that fact against you at trial (they can't say, "members of the jury this lady refused, that means she's drunk!). For the time being, if you refuse a blood test the prosecutors can make this argument. Defense attorneys like myself, however, are always trying to sway courts to change their minds about this.
If you have been arrested with DUI reach out to us (470-635-1725) and schedule a free consultation. We can help you with your case.