If you’ve been pulled over for a suspected DUI in Georgia, it’s imperative that you know your rights. Allow us to answer four frequently asked questions about the arrest process:
- How can the officer arrest me if my BAC is under the legal limit?
- Should I take a field sobriety test or roadside Alco-Sensor test?
- What is the state-administered test, and do I have to take it?
- Can I use my 5th Amendment Right so I do not incriminate myself?
How can the officer arrest me if my BAC is under the legal limit?
The widespread belief that a person is allowed to drink and drive as long as their blood alcohol content (BAC) is below .08% is a huge misconception. In Georgia, there is no “legal limit” concerning alcohol consumption and driving/being in public. Typically, if an officer conducts a breathalyzer test and it comes back with an .08% or higher, it is presumed that the offender is driving while impaired. This is called the DUI “per se” limit.
There is, however, a less common accusation that can land a driver with a DUI – a DUI “less safe” limit. This limit refers to having blood alcohol content between .05% and .08%. DUI “less safe” presumes that the person is operating a vehicle in a manner that is not safe, even though his or her blood alcohol content is less than .08%.
Should I take a field sobriety test or roadside Alco-Sensor test?
No, they are voluntary! The field sobriety test and roadside Alco-Sensor (breathalyzer) test can negatively affect your case. A police officer cannot make you take these tests. If asked to perform either, politely decline and say you’d like to contact a lawyer. If a police officer pulls you over for a suspected DUI, it is the police officer’s responsibility to show the burden of proof (hence the tests he will ask you to take). It is not your responsibility to prove innocence.
What is the state-administered test, and do I have to take it?
After refusing the field sobriety test or roadside Alco-Sensor test, you can offer to take the state-administered test after implied consent has been read to you. When you receive a driver’s license in the state of Georgia, you are agreeing to the state-administered test if necessary. However, you do not need to take it at the police station or roadside. Request to be taken to a hospital to conduct the independent tests (breath test, blood test, urine test, or all three).
Can I use my 5th Amendment Right so I do not incriminate myself?
Yes! The police officer will ask you questions like “How much have you had to drink?” or “Have you been drinking?” These are self-incriminating questions that can be used in court. Instead of incriminating yourself, you can politely say that you’d like to invoke your 5th amendment rights.