Five Things Cops Look For During a DUI
Being pulled over for a minor traffic offense is not a fun time, but if the encounter turns into a DUI investigation, things get much worse. While even a beer or two can get you investigated for DUI, not all people investigated are arrested. Remember these 5 things all cops are looking for during a DUI investigation and it can help you avoid a night in jail.
- Your driving: What you were doing to attract the cop's attention in the first place is important in a DUI case. Cops are trained to observe and note everything they can about your driving, both before and after the blue lights come on. NHTSA even publishes guidelines for officers to gauge what traffic offenses can be indicative of DUI. If the officer asks you for an explanation for your driving, give them one. If a phone, GPS or even a passenger distracted you, tell them. It could provide an alternative explanation for any driving errors you made.
- Your attitude and communication: If pulled over, be respectful and to the point. Cops are trained that DUI drivers are more likely to be agitated and angry, make random remarks, and otherwise display nonsensical behavior. Cops will testify to this in court and there could even be a video of your behavior. When answering a cop's questions, be polite but be brief. Most people trying to explain their way out of a situation only end up making things worse. Don't apologize or admit to anything; it could come back to haunt your case.
- Your physical appearance: Again, most investigations are captured on camera and can be played for the prosecutor or in any court proceeding you have. Keep this in mind and make sure you appear neat and put together if you are asked to get out of your car. Cops are trained to note your clothing and appearance, your face, eyes, etc. There isn't much you can do about your eyes or your natural attributes, but make sure you don't look like you just crawled out of a bar after 12 hours of partying.
- Field sobriety tests at your car: Cops love field sobriety tests. What better way to make someone look silly and even impaired than to have them hopping around on one leg at 2 am on the side of the road? The advice on this one is simple: respectfully decline to take any field sobriety tests requiring you to perform physical tasks. If you are confident you will blow 00s on a breath test, you could agree to take a portable or preliminary breath test is the officer has one handy. Remember, this is different from the chemical test at a jail or hospital that is discussed in #5.
- The State Breath or Blood Test: Under Georgia's DUI laws, cops are trained to ask you for a breath or blood test IF you are arrested for DUI. Unlike many lawyers who say NEVER blow, I do not believe in this absolute, one size fits all advice. Just remember, if you refuse chemical testing, cops and prosecutors will tout that as a sign of your guilt in court. Also keep in mind that if you do take a breath or blood test and test over the limit, it is by far and away the strongest evidence against you. Be aware of things 1-4 above and maybe it will help you avoid having to make this decision!