Many people find themselves in need of a good DUI lawyer Savannah GA. There are many legitimate offenses each year, but some turn out to be unlawful. Drunk driving cases normally proceed in a set manner. By understanding what people might expect during a DUI traffic stop, those who are stopped for the offense may be able to help their DUI lawyer Savannah GA as he or she prepares the defense to the allegations.
The Traffic Stop
In a routine DUI stop, an officer will pull over a vehicle for some alleged traffic violation. Except for cases involving checkpoints, police officers are required to have a reasonable suspicion that the person who they are stopping has committed a traffic violation of some sort. This could include such things as speeding, having a taillight or headlight out, weaving, following too closely or any one of many others. A good DUI lawyer Savannah GA or defense attorney might begin by examining the reasons for the stop. If the officer appears to have stopped the vehicle without another traffic violation having been committed, the defense attorney may then file a motion challenging the constitutionality of the stop. If the motion is successful at a hearing, the stop will be suppressed along with all of the evidence that was gathered following it, resulting in a dismissal of the charges.
The Roadside Investigation
When the vehicle is first pulled over by the police, the officer will walk up to the driver’s side window and ask for the person’s driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration information. The officer may also ask the driver if he or she knows why the officer stopped the car. After checking the person’s identification and insurance using a database, the officer will then return to the car. He or she may then tell the person that the officer smells alcohol. It is also common for the officer to ask, “How much did you have to drink tonight?”
Following this exchange, the officer may then ask that the person get out of his or her car and perform roadside tests. These include the walk-and-turn, the one-legged stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. Together, these three tests are the ones that have been standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meaning that performance on them is statistically correlated to sobriety.
The officer might also perform any number of non-standardized tests, including having the person recite the alphabet or count backward, standing with his or her feet together with his or her head tilted back or closing his or her eyes while touching his or her nose with a finger. Finally, the officer may ask the person if they would be willing to submit to a portable breath test on the side of the road.
A good DUI lawyer would have multiple recommendations for people who are stopped. It is best if they don’t talk beyond giving their name and information. In many cases, people wrongly believe that they might be able to talk themselves out of situations, but that is simply not true with DUI stops. It is best not to answer questions about how much a person has had to drink, why the person believes he or she was stopped or anything beyond the basic identification information. Officers will note any statements made by people in their reports, and prosecutors can use all of those statements against the person in a later prosecution for drunk driving.
Many people also falsely believe that they must perform roadside tests. Field sobriety tests are voluntary, meaning a person can simply politely refuse. The tests are very easy to fail even for people who are sober. All that they are used for is to build a case against the person so that the officer can support probable cause for a warrantless arrest. A good criminal defense lawyer would strongly recommend that a person not perform either the field sobriety tests or consent to the portable breath test at the side of the road. This may help the DUI attorney to attack the officer’s probable cause for the DUI arrest, possibly resulting in the suppression of the breathalyzer results the officer will then obtain at the police station.
The breathalyzer test is different than the portable breath test, or PBT. The PBT is a roadside test in which the person is asked to blow into a small tube that the officer carries at the side of the road. While the PBT is optional, meaning people can refuse to do it, the breathalyzer test at the police station is not. In Georgia, a refusal of a breathalyzer test results in an automatic 1-year suspension of the person’s driving privileges even if he or she is not ultimately convicted of a DUI offense.
Instead, people should submit to the breathalyzer test, and if they fail it, they should request an independent of the sample and pay for the cost of the independent testing. A DUI lawyer may look at multiple factors regarding the breathalyzer testing. He or she will check to see when the machine was last certified, how old the solutions are, the qualifications of the officer and others. Doing so can help the DUI attorney attack the breathalyzer testing itself if there appear to be issues with how the testing was performed or with the machine itself.
If people remember to follow these steps, they may help their DUI defense lawyer build stronger defensive cases to the allegations. People should avoid helping the prosecution and the state to build stronger prosecution cases against them. A good DUI defense lawyer can then step in, identifying any constitutional problems with the case and fighting to win dismissal of the charges against his or her client.
Trust the experts at Tate Law Group to assist you in any way we can to make sure that your rights are upheld. Talk to us about your experience with a DUI that you feel is unfair and we’ll determine if your case is worth pursuing.