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Georgia DUI | 4 Ways Most DUI Georgia Cases Start

The 4 Most Common Ways That an Arrest for a Georgia DUI Happens

By: William C. Head, DUI Attorney Atlanta

A DUI arrest in Georgia can be made on public roads or on private property.

In the State of Georgia, the following situations cover how almost all GA DUI cases begin, in order of total cases made within the state:

  1. Traffic violations. Most cases start from a traffic offense or equipment defect being observed by a law enforcement officer. At the top of the list of traffic tickets starting a DUI pullover, in metro Atlanta, is “lane violation,” and a speeding ticket tops the list of most common traffic tickets in rural Georgia. Any minor problem like a tag light not operating is a sufficient basis for an officer to pull over a vehicle. Once the pullover occurs, an officer will ask about alcohol or both alcohol and drugs. These questions often are asked, even when no evidence exists to suspect use of drugs or alcohol.
  2. Accident cases. Even when a police officer does not see a traffic offense occur, once he or she gets to an accident investigation, alcohol and drug use will be part of the inquiries made of all drivers. Almost half of all Georgia traffic accidents occur within the same 25 mile radius of downtown Atlanta.
  3. DUI checkpoints. Georgia is one of about three-fourths of the states that permit sobriety checkpoints. A DUI checkpoint will NOT be set up on a high speed roadway, but check points can be positioned at the ramp leading to or coming off interstate highways.
  4. Car is parked, whether running or not. In a parked car, with or without the engine running. Having the key or a fob to start the vehicle is a sufficient basis for a Georgia DUI arrest, under Georgia’s “actual physical control” language under OCGA 40-6-391.

Unless the Key or Fob Is Not Present, Drunk Driving Can Still Be Accused

Because Georgia DUI law covers both public locations and private property, many unsuspecting motorists in Georgia are not aware that “sleeping it off” in your car (and in your own driveway) can result in a driving while intoxicated charge in Georgia. The officer need not see your vehicle in motion. DUI laws in Georgia broadly define DUI as being “in actual physical control of a moving vehicle.” On waterways, the same rules are applicable to BUI, and being in actual physical control.

Having the MEANS to Start Your Vehicle is Enough to Support a Conviction for DUI in GA

If you have the ignition key, or fob, that starts the engine, this is sufficient for “actual physical control.” When the officer obtains an implied consent breath alcohol test or other forensic test, the “number” from that test can be collected up to three hours after such “driving or being in actual physical control ended.”  This can be via a warm engine, or eyewitnesses, or premises camera, etc.

The State can get a conviction, if a driver is awakened by police in a parked vehicle, with the engine off, if the key or key fob is present. Assuming that an eyewitness can’t place the driver “behind the wheel” on the roadway in the last several hours, the State can still prosecute for driving under the influence in Georgia. In fact, any drunk person inside the car that HAS THE KEY, is likely subject to prosecution of DUI in GA.

The best protection against a DUI conviction? Remain silent and don’t take sobriety tests.

If a driver remains silent, and does not self-incriminate, and declines to take any roadside evaluations (the so-called field sobriety tests), then making a less safe DUI alcohol case would be very tough for an officer to succeed in a DUI alcohol less safe case, under OCGA 40-6-391 (a)(1). These are cases that a DUI lawyer dreams about handling, so long as the arrested driver did not later provide an Intoxilyzer 9000 breath alcohol test, or a blood alcohol test that shows an impairing level of alcohol.

Why taking the Georgia implied consent law test can change the case outcome.

But, if the person (after their arrest) submits to a breathalyzer test on an Intoxilyzer 9000, or consents to an alcohol blood test, those alcohol results (if taken within three hours) can be used under the expansive definition of “actual physical control,” under Georgia DUI laws. With the alcohol breath test results “over the legal limit” in hand, the prosecutor need not prove “impairment.”

Your own words, prior to arrest, are often the most damaging evidence.

If no implied consent test is taken, in conjunction with the DUI arrest, and a DUI-alcohol less safe case is all that is charged, police will need to establish (through circumstantial evidence) that you drove the car after drinking the alcohol. The most common way police obtain this harmful evidence is from words coming out of your own mouth, when they ASK you “How long have you been parked here?” and “When was your last drink of alcohol?”

Call 42-year veteran Atlanta DUI attorney Bubba Head today and get honest answers to all your questions. Tell us everything that happened and everything you remember about your DUI arrest. The sooner you call us, the better chance we have to win your DUI case and get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Remember, you only have 30 DAYS to file a license suspension appeal or apply for an ignition interlock device, or your driver’s license will be suspended for up to one year! Talk to Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, or Cory Yager now. We are available 24 hours a day, weekends, and all major holidays. (404) 567-5515

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