Should I refuse the breath test?
Being stopped on suspicion of drunk driving can be a frightening experience. After all, a DUI conviction in Georgia could potentially result in prison time, fines, and loss of your driver’s license. The important thing to remember if you are being pulled over is that you do have legal rights. Knowing your legal rights and having a plan as to whether you should comply with the field sobriety tests can help you to stay calm and potentially avoid conviction.
Reasonable Suspicion for the Stop
For a traffic stop to be legal, a Georgia police officer must have reasonable suspicion to suspect criminal activity. Before pulling your vehicle over, a police officer needs to reasonably suspect that you have violated the law in some way, which could include speeding, erratic driving, or operating with faulty equipment.
Your Right to Remain Silent
A police officer’s observations upon stopping you will prove critical as to whether you will eventually be charged with driving while intoxicated. If you have been stopped, you will need to show your driver’s license and registration, along with proof of insurance. You do not, however, need to answer any questions. You have the right to remain silent, but you will need to assert that right by stating you are invoking your right to remain silent. While providing basic information like your name and age is generally fine, you should not make any disclosures as to alcohol you may have consumed. Anything you say at this point will be used against you.
Your Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests and Chemical Tests
You have the absolute right to refuse field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are subjective tests aimed at gathering evidence of your intoxication. These tests are left largely up to the interpretation of the officer performing them. Further, field sobriety tests are not always reliable and can be influenced by factors other than alcohol. At times, however, a field sobriety test will provide evidence in favor of your innocence. You alone can decide what is best when it comes to taking or refusing the field sobriety tests.
As for chemical tests, you can refuse to take any roadside breath test offered to you. You will likely be transported to the police station. At this point, if you refuse to take the police station breath or blood test, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended and you have just days to contest the suspension. Consult with a DUI attorney as soon as possible following your arrest for individualized legal assistance.