What to Expect if You Get a DUI
Getting arrested on a Driving Under the Influence or DUI charge can be a frightening thing. A DUI is a complicated legal matter that can include many potential charges that can go on your record. Therefore, it is extremely important to have the right legal representation to help you to navigate the complexities of these charges. It is wise to know what happens after you get pulled over for a DUI, as well as understanding the types of charges and sentences you may face when charged with one. A qualified attorney can help you understand what you are up against as well as help you to minimize the impact a DUI has on your future.
What Happens After Getting Pulled Over for a Suspected DUI in Georgia:
1. You Will Be Asked to Submit to Field Sobriety Testing
An officer who notices certain driving infractions and suspects that you are driving under the influence will ask that you undergo a Field Sobriety Test (FST) to assess whether they believe you were driving under the influence. FSTs are conducted to determine if there is enough evidence to charge you with a DUI. Many times, an officer will conduct the following Field Sobriety Tests, however, it is possible that there could be other tests they ask you to perform:
The Walk and Turn - In this test you will be given instructions and a demonstration by the officer on how to perform the test. When you are told to do so, you will take 9 heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, then turn on one foot, and do the same thing in the opposite direction while keeping your arms by your side.
One Leg Stand - The officer will again give you instructions and a demonstration on how to perform the test. You will be asked to stand with your feet together and hands by your side, and to not begin the test until you are told. After the officer tells you to begin, you are to elevate a leg of your preference with your hands by your side, keeping both legs straight, with the elevated leg remaining in the air. You will be timed, and the officer will generally verify that you can keep your balance for 30 seconds.
HGN Test - The officer will first verify that you are not wearing contact lenses before performing an HGN Test. They will shine a bright light or stimulus in your eyes to see if they detect any involuntary jerky movements of the pupils which could indicate intoxication.
As they are performing these tests, the officer is adding up how many infractions or clues they note that point to intoxication to further aid in their case against you. You may also be asked to take a preliminary breath test to see whether your breath tests positive for the presence of alcohol. They will also ask you whether you would like to submit to the State-Administered Breath Test. All of these tests are voluntary but there are consequences both for and against taking them.
2. You Will Be Arrested and Booked
If you are suspected of DUI, you will then be arrested and taken to the nearest jail. If you agreed to submit to the State Breathalyzer test one will usually be conducted at the jail. The breathalyzer is a test that determines Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) from a breath sample. At the jail, they will also fingerprint you, take a mugshot photograph and then book you into the system, where you will then wait for your bail amount to be set by a judge. Once this happens, you can generally have someone bail you out and will be given a court date for your first court hearing.
3. You Should Request an ALS Hearing
An Administrative License Suspension (ALS) Hearing is separate from the hearings you will attend for your DUI and traffic charges, however, it is just as important. Within 30 days of your arrest, you are able to file an appeal of your license suspension and request an ALS hearing. It is generally advised to do this regardless, but you should especially consider it if you refused to have your Blood Alcohol Content tested upon your arrest—if this is the case, your license could be suspended for a minimum of 12 months regardless of your plea. At the ALS Hearing, the arresting officer will be present in the courtroom and present the charges that are being brought against you, which can give you more insight into the significance of the situation. These hearings must be requested and handled in a specific format, which is why having a qualified DUI lawyer on your side is essential.
4. Your Driver’s License May Be Suspended
If you do not request an ALS hearing and you are charged with a DUI your license may be automatically suspended even before taking a plea or going to court—this is different from the suspension you receive after taking a plea or being convicted of DUI. If it is your first DUI conviction, you may be eligible to apply for reinstatement after 120 days if you meet certain criteria. However, If you have a previous DUI, you can face longer suspensions. You will need an experienced attorney that can help you to save your driver’s privileges.
Types of DUI Charges in Georgia
It is important to note that officers can bring more than one type of DUI charge against you upon your arrest, and how you handle these charges is extremely important. You can be charged with multiple DUI types at once, such as DUI Per Se and DUI Less Safe depending on the evidence that the arresting officer collects as well as other driving infractions. If you are over the age of 21 and your breathalyzer results are over the legal limit of 0.08 BAC, then you will be charged with a DUI Per Se. If the DUI is suspected due to driving infractions and the result of your FST’s or even a refusal, you may be charged with a DUI Less Safe. There are also other DUI categorizations in Georgia.
Depending on the charges, a DUI conviction will carry statutory jail time and since it is a finger printable charge it will show up on your criminal record. In addition to jail, a DUI conviction carries certain statutory requirements such as an alcohol treatment program or AA, community service, the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), fines, and more.
How Can A Lawyer Help Me With a DUI Charge?
Because of the complexities involved with DUI charges in Georgia, it is important to make sure that you have a qualified DUI lawyer on your side. A lawyer can help you navigate the intricacies of an ALS Hearing, your court hearing, and all the charges that are levied against you so that you can mitigate the impact that a DUI can have on your life. If you have questions about how our DUI attorneys can help, get in touch with us today to learn more.