In the previous post, entitled "Why the Cop's Stop Matters in a Georgia DUI", I wanted to give insight into how and why law enforcement can legally pull you over under Georgia traffic laws. Whether you are reading this article for future reference in an effort to steer clear of trouble, or if you have been arrested for a DUI or other crime after being stopped, remember this: cops are trained to observe and note just about anything you do abnormal or wrong from the time they first blue light you until you are released to jail staff. The first area they are trained to pay close attention to is how you are actually driving.
While your vehicle is in motion, the officer is looking for any abnormal or notable driving maneuvers or actions that could indicate DUI. These officers have a list of driving actions to include failing to maintain your lane, weaving, abnormal stopping, driving without headlights, etc. The list is quite exhaustive. Interestingly, speeding (over the posted speed limit) is not on this list and is something I will talk more about in a future article. After an officer has seen you commit one of these common driving infractions, they will usually blue light you and pull you over. Sometimes they will follow you for quite a distance, video tape rolling, to capture more evidence of your poor driving ability.
While police and prosecutors alike will really concentrate on any evidence of bad driving, the usually overlook any good driving maneuvers; any evidence that you were driving safely. I make it a practice to really emphasize these safe, normal driving movements in any investigation. Police officers are specifically trained to note if you are slow in pulling over, pull over in an unsafe location, or fail to signal while changing lanes in doing so. Most clients, in my experience, do these things well and never receive any credit for it. Officers will always testify that driving is a task that requires being able to divide your attention- one of the reasons their sobriety tests are mostly divided attention tests. So, what better evidence that you can divide your attention than changing lanes, using a turn signal, finding a safe location to pull over, and pulling over in a prompt manner, all with blue strobe lights in your rearview mirror? This is pretty powerful evidence that you were not only capable of driving safely, but were driving safely and in full control of your faculties. Remember, law enforcement and prosecutors will try to pin your bad driving on the simple fact that you were intoxicated, rather than understand that other reasons: cell phones, passengers, etc., were a cause for a small driving infraction.
The take away point is this: your driving actions are very important in a DUI investigation. Jurors always pay close attention to how you were actually driving in the first place. If you see the blue lights, pull over as safely as possible. If you are charged with DUI and are looking for insight into how to fight your case, remember to discuss this very important area with your attorney. Look for the things you did well and have your attorney use them to balance all of the 'bad' evidence the state will rely on.