Happy (Almost) Memorial Day Weekend!
Memorial Day is a day when we honor the men and women who have died serving our country. At Kevin Fisher Legal, we extend our gratitude and respect to those individuals for their sacrifice.
For many Americans, Memorial Day also traditionally marks the beginning of summer. During the summer, I generally see an uptick in DUI and traffic enforcement around the State of Georgia. Of course, this corresponds with an uptick in DUI and other traffic cases in Georgia courts.
For many police departments around Georgia, traffic enforcement often comes in the form of DUI and/or vehicle safety checkpoints. Atlanta Police Department and other law enforcement agencies around the state intend to use checkpoints aggressively in 2022.
Read my blog post about Atlanta DUI Checkpoints here.
Because you are increasingly likely to encounter a checkpoint if you drive in Georgia, knowing your rights is essential.
Here’s what you need to know.
- You do not have to answer any questions. I typically recommend that my clients politely decline to answer any questions because the police can use your words and your manner of speaking against you. For example, the police routinely write in their DUI reports that a person was “belligerent” or if they had “slurred speech.”
- You are not required to participate in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Whether or not the police inform you that these tests are voluntary, you legally cannot be compelled to perform them. Most attorneys who practice DUI law will tell you that these tests are difficult to pass even for a person who is not under the influence, and that they were designed that way. It is generally safer to decline to take them (again, politely).
- You should not consent to any searches of your vehicle. The police can search your vehicle even without your consent in certain circumstances, but it is much more difficult to challenge the legality of a search in court if you give the police your permission to search.
- You can ask, “Am I free to leave?” If the police say “yes,” leave as quickly (but as safely) as possible. If they say that you are not free to leave, ask for your attorney. They may not comply immediately, but it’s a good idea to be on record asking for your lawyer.
- Do not argue or become combative with the police. If you do, you may end up with additional charges (or worse). If you have concerns about your contact with the police, let your attorney know. It’s smart to write down everything you remember about your interaction because memory fades faster than you think.
If you are charged with a criminal or traffic offense after being stopped at a checkpoint, do not panic. The first thing you should do is pick up the phone and contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Never go to court without understanding your options.