It is never recommended to operate a motor vehicle if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, people often mistake or misjudge the amount of alcohol they have consumed at a social gathering. While every circumstance is different during a traffic stop, there are some things to keep in mind if you are under suspicion of driving under the influence by law enforcement:
• You are not required to answer questions that are incriminating, such as “have you been drinking.” A request to speak with your attorney would be an appropriate response. However informing an officer that you had one or two drinks should not be harmful, and may explain any scent of alcohol.
• You do not have the right to an attorney when you are stopped initially at the scene in Georgia. You will gain the right to counsel after the investigation is complete and you are taken to jail. It is still a good idea to request a lawyer when you are first stopped in the event that the officer allows you to call prior to having the right to do so.
• Performing field sobriety tests (such as an eye test, balancing or the walk and turn) is not recommended. These tests are designed to manufacture evidence against you which will be used in court, and most experts agree that police are not sufficiently trained to accurately interpret the symptoms observed. It is suggested to respectfully decline when asked to partake in street evaluations.
• Georgia is an implied consent state, which means that you consent to chemical testing just by way of driving on Georgia Highways. If you refuse testing your license may automatically be suspended for up to a year. However, most attorneys agree that it is usually not in your best interest to offer blood, breath, or urine samples at the police station if your Blood Alcohol Concentration is likely to be high. Tests are often not completely accurate, especially regarding female testing, and readings will be used as further evidence against you. If you do undergo testing it is important to remember you have the right to request your own testing from an outside source. Officers must accommodate these requests.
• In order to avoid the one year suspension due to refusal of chemical testing you must request a special hearing with the Department of Driver Services. This hearing is also required to prevent a suspended license in cases where a driver was shown to have a BAC higher than the legal limit. Requests must be made within 10 days of your arrest; which is why it is especially important to immediately contact an attorney with your case, regardless of how far off your arraignment date may be.