Timothy O. McCalep

Points in a drunk driving stop can impact your defense

With the holiday weekend here, people are going to be heading out to parties and firework displays. Many people will decide to drink alcoholic beverages, which is perfectly enjoyable and part of the revelry for many people. However, it is imperative that you do so responsibly.

Some people do not plan ahead and suffer the consequences. If you find yourself staring at a police cruiser's flashing lights and know that you have been drinking, there are some important points to keep in mind about a drunk driving traffic stop.

Officers need probable cause to pull you over

Police officers need to have probable cause to stop your vehicle. They can initiate a traffic stop if they see you breaking the law, which includes committing a traffic offense like running a red light, speeding or failing to signal a turn.

Probable cause for a traffic stop can also come from seeing something that makes the officer think that you may be breaking the law. In the case of a suspected drunk driver, things like swerving, driving well below the speed limit, hitting parked objects, driving without headlights on at night, and stopping abruptly without cause are all signs of someone who might be drunk. In these cases, the officer would have probable cause to pull your vehicle over.

Determining your sobriety

Once the police officer initiates the traffic stop, he or she will need to determine if you are intoxicated. This is done by either conducting a breath test to check your blood-alcohol concentration percentage or by having you take a field sobriety test. When an officer requests that you do one of these, you do have the right to refuse but that refusal might not be without consequence.

Georgia has an implied consent law, which means that you agree to BAC testing when you accept your driver's license. If you opt to decline BAC testing, you can face penalties that include a suspension of your driving privileges.

Start your defense right away

There are several things that you have to think about when you are facing a drunk driving charge. Besides criminal aspects of the charge, administrative penalties will be forthcoming. The administrative process, which has to do with the driver's license suspension, has very strict time limits that you must abide by. Ultimately, time is of the essence when you are facing drunk driving charges, so learn your options right away.

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