Have you ever gone through a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) checkpoint? DUI checkpoints can become an anxiety-inducing experience, even for those who haven’t had anything to drink. DUI checkpoints are becoming more commonly used tools to apprehend those driving while under the influence of alcohol.
While Georgia DUI checkpoints can serve as a useful tool, there is always a risk that innocent drivers will face a DUI charge. Even with the very best intentions, police officers can fail to ensure that the driver’s constitutional rights are protected. It’s important for all Georgia drivers to know their rights when it comes to DUI checkpoints. If you’ve been charged with a Georgia DUI at a checkpoint, the knowledgeable lawyers of Carter Pilgrim are here to offer you excellent legal representation.
What Are DUI Checkpoints?
Public opinion against Georgia DUI drivers is substantial. Voters have demanded that law enforcement force crackdown on drunk driving. As a result, Georgia police have the authority to set up roadside checkpoints on public roads. Law enforcement officers often set up roadside DUI checkpoints on holiday weekends when residents are more likely to drink alcoholic beverages at parties and celebrations.
At these checkpoints, police attempt to stop people who are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A police officer might ask to see your car registration and driver’s license as you pull through the checkpoint. While the officers ask to see your driver’s license and registration, they will look for signs of alcohol or drug impairment, such as:
- Slurred speech
- Uncoordinated motor skills
- The odor of alcohol
- Bloodshot eyes
- Open containers of alcohol in the car
In any event, at a DUI checkpoint in Georgia, the police must adhere to the following guidelines:
- The officers conducting the roadblock must have sufficient experience and training
- The roadside checkpoint needs to serve a legitimate government purpose
- Supervisors must plan the roadside checkpoint and all of the procedures involved within the police department, not officers who work in the field
- The police officers working at the roadside checkpoint may not randomly pull some drivers over and let other drivers pass by unchecked. It needs to be evident that the police are
- running the checkpoint before the driver arrives
- The delay in driving must be minimal
- The police department must choose a checkpoint location while keeping public safety in mind
- The detection procedures used by the police officers at the checkpoint must be standardized
- Only qualified police officers may perform the DUI detection procedures at the checkpoint
The key takeaway is that the police must administer Georgia DUI checkpoints in a way that is minimally intrusive to Georgia drivers. If the police did not follow these procedures when they arrested you at a checkpoint, the arrest may violate your civil rights and a court could not convict you.
You Are Not Required to Answer Questions At DUI Checkpoints
If you go through a roadside checkpoint, the police officers may begin to ask you questions regarding your consumption of alcohol. You are not required to answer these questions legally, and you can politely refuse to do so. Drivers can also present police officers with a card that states that they are exercising their constitutional right not to speak. You have every right to refuse to talk to a police officer until you speak to a DUI checkpoint criminal defense attorney. If the police are not arresting you, you are free to leave the Georgia DUI checkpoint.
Drivers Can Often Refuse to Engage in Roadside Sobriety Tests
In most cases, drivers can refuse to engage in roadside field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests may include performing a one-legged stand, walking in a straight line and then turning and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. Field sobriety tests can become incriminating. Importantly, even if you’re well within your legal rights to refuse to take a sobriety test, the police department can still arrest you.
You Have the Right to Refuse a Georgia Breathalyzer Test
Roadside breathalyzers are known to be inaccurate. Even if you’ve only had a single alcoholic drink, the breathalyzer may read over the legal limit in Georgia. Unless you are entirely sure that your blood alcohol content is zero, it is unwise to take a breathalyzer test. Under Georgia law, you do have a right to refuse to accept a breathalyzer test. When asked to take a breathalyzer test, you are within your rights to politely refuse to do so. If a law enforcement officer continues to press you to take the test, you can request to speak with an attorney.
If you refuse a roadside breathalyzer test, be aware that a police officer may take you to the police station. You do not have a right to refuse to accept a breathalyzer test at the police station. When you receive a driver’s license in Georgia, you automatically agree to give implied consent to blood-alcohol tests conducted inside Georgia police stations. If you refuse the breathalyzer test at the police station, you will violate Georgia’s implied consent law. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test at the police station could result in a year-long suspension of your driver’s license.
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