What Happens When Someone Is Pulled Over At A DUI Stop In Georgia?
Typically, when someone gets pulled over for some sort of a violation of the roadway, the officer walks up to the car and speaks to the driver. Usually, one of the first questions asked is whether the driver has been drinking. If the person answers affirmatively or the officer smells alcohol, then things tend to escalate from there. They are asked to step outside of the car and the officer usually wants to administer standardized field sobriety tests, which include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This is an eye test designed to see if there’s any nystagmus, which is an involuntary jerking reflex. Next, the officer administers the walk and turn test. The driver is instructed to take nine steps, heel to toe, with their arms to their sides and then turn in a specific manner, which is demonstrated by the officer, and walk nine steps back. The walk and turn evaluation is designed to see if someone can perform physical feats and has the mental acuity to pay attention and see what the instructions are from the officer.
After the walk and turn test, the officer will administer the one leg stand test, which is quite self-explanatory. You balance on one leg and you’re required to keep your arms to the sides and count until 30 seconds have elapsed, and then the officer tells you to put your foot down. For both the walk and turn evaluation and the one leg stand test, they assess negative points called clues. If you get enough negative points on that coupled with the eye test, it will turn it into an arrest. Prior to the arrest, the officer will typically ask for a portable breath test, also called the Alco-sensor in Georgia.
As far as the Alco-sensor is concerned, the Georgia courts have ruled that the officer can’t mention what the number is on that Alco-sensor. For court purposes, it can only be used to determine whether it’s positive or negative. After that, the officer reads an implied consent warning and the driver is taken to the station. If they consent, they’re given a breath, blood, or urine test and after that, they are entitled to get an independent test by medical personnel of their own choosing at a site of their own choosing. All testing is supposed to be administered within three hours of the traffic stop.
What Happens To Someone’s Driver’s License When They Are Arrested And Charged With A DUI?
Usually, when someone is arrested for a DUI, their license is seized and taken by the officer and not returned. The officer issues a temporary driving permit called a 1205 form, which is good for 45 days. The 45 day permit can be extended by requesting a hearing at the Georgia DVS within 30 days. Upon conviction of a first DUI within five years, provided it’s not a DUI drug case, they are entitled to have a work permit.
Is It Possible To Refuse A Breath Or Blood Test In Georgia?
In Georgia, a citizen is allowed to refuse a breath test, a blood test, or a urine test and has a constitutional right to do so. If they elect to refuse, the next step would be to send a letter to contest a refusal suspension at our version of the DMV, called DVS. Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court has released a very favorable opinion called the Elliott case, which says Georgia citizens can, in fact, refuse to take a test and if they do refuse to take a test, then that’s not admissible during their trial. This is significant because it helps defend a DUI and makes it inadmissible for prosecutors to mention that you refused in court.
What Factors Can Enhance Or Aggravate A DUI Charge In Georgia?
Georgia has several factors that can enhance a DUI charge. If it’s your first DUI, normally there are no enhancements. For a second or third DUI within a five year period, there are enhancements and increased jail time, community service, probation, and a higher fine. If, on a first DUI conviction, someone is typically sentenced to serve 40 hours of community service and one day in jail, then on a second DUI within a five year period, they’d be required to do 240 hours and up to 90 days in jail. On a third DUI within a five year period, the citizen is required to lose their license for five years. They are declared a habitual violator and the community service and jail time is significantly enhanced.
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