Law Office of Paul W. Hamilton

A Brief Timeline Of The DUI Process In Georgia


The timeline of a DUI basically begins with the stop of your vehicle. Drivers are usually stopped at a roadblock, pulled over by law enforcement, or detained at an accident scene. In some cases, someone will call 911and report that they have witnessed someone on the road driving erratically. There are a number of indicators that officers look for to determine if one is impaired.

Law enforcement are watching for how the vehicle is operating while it is in motion. Specifically, whether it is weaving into the other lane of traffic, failing to maintain its lane, or driving too slowly. They are also looking to see whether the driver is driving fast or if they are absolutely reckless and running other cars off the road. These are just some of the things that law enforcement are trained to look for. Additionally, they are watching to see if a driver is slow to respond to emergency lights when activated and whether they pull over to a safe place or not. They are looking to see how that person appears when pulled over and questioned.

They will look for bloodshot eyes and disheveled clothing. They are going to ask questions that require drivers to do two things at once such as, “Can I see your license and registration?” They are going to watch how your reflexes are when they are asking you to pull your license out of your wallet or purse, and look for whether the driver has trouble holding those documents as they give them to the officer. They are going to ask questions about where you are going and what were you doing. During this process they are trying to determine whether or not you are an impaired driver. The next thing that typically happens at a DUI stop is that the officer asks the individual driver to get out of the vehicle. There are also a number of things they are looking for when the person exits the vehicle.

They are watching whether the individual has difficulty in getting out of the vehicle, whether they stumbled and fell out or they simply opened the door and got out. Did they use the vehicle for balance while holding on to the side as they walked to the back of the car? Did they stumble and fall over, or did they negotiate everything just fine while talking to the officer. Typically, at this point the officer is going to ask you if you have been drinking. Then there are roadside tests that will be administered. Law enforcement generally administer three standardized field sobriety tests. The first one is known as Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, commonly call the HGN.

Paul W. Hamilton, Esq.

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The layman’s term is the “follow my finger with your eyes test,” where they will hold up a pen or finger and ask you to follow that object. During this test, they are basically looking to see if your eyes are involuntary jerking as they move from side to side. This is actually one test among the three that is considered a scientifically validated test. It has to be performed in a relatively correct manner. Georgia courts have said that it does not have to be performed entirely correctly, but there has to be substantial compliance with the testing procedure.

The next test that is done after the HGN test is the Walk and Turn Test. This is simply where an officer identifies an imaginary or actual line on the ground and asks you to walk down that imaginary line. The officer should give you instructions and require you to take the nine heels to toe steps, pivot around on one foot and take another nine heel to toe steps back. They are looking for different clues as this test is conducted.

The final standardized test in the three test battery is the one leg stand. This test requires you to hold one foot approximately 12 inches off the ground for approximately thirty seconds. While you are standing on one leg, the officer is looking to see if the individual is able to maintain their balance or has to trouble with their counting.

What is interesting about this battery of tests is lots of other people have problems doing them when they are completely sober.

In fact, some of the tests are not even validated for individuals who are sixty years of age or have problems with their knees, backs or legs. Many times the officers do not even inquire if you have such prior injuries that might affect the test results. They do not ask, nor do they care and they take shortcuts in administering most of these tests. What we do is we zero in on those deficiencies and that benefits our clients. Generally, after those three tests have been conducted, the officer will then ask the individual to blow into what is called a PBT or a portable breath test. It is a small handheld machine that is carried by the officers to use during vehicle stops. After blowing into the PBT, it gives a numerical reading to the officer. However, in Georgia that numerical reading is not allowed to be disclosed to a jury during a trial—they are only able to say whether it was positive or negative for alcohol.

Essentially the PBT is the last step taken before an officer makes a DUI arrest decision, but you do see some officers do the PBT as the first step. It just shows that perhaps they do not want to do field sobriety tests because they are inexperienced or they are afraid that they will do something wrong in the actual administration of the test and a well trained DUI attorney will ask them why they did it wrong.

After the officer makes a decision to arrest a one for DUI, the officer has to read a card to the individual that is known as implied consent. It basically states that you are going to be asked to submit to a chemical test of your breath, urine or blood.

You are not required to submit to any of these test. If you do not submit to the test, you are considered a DUI refusal. If you submit to a breath test, then you are taken to the local police station or sheriff’s office where the breath test machine is located. There, they will administer the Intoxilyzer 9000, which is breath machine currently being used in the state of Georgia. Generally, the two biggest pieces of evidence against a DUI defendant is the dash-cam video of the stop and field sobriety tests, and secondly, the results of the Intoxilyzer when it shows an amount over the legal limit.

These are two of the most damning or difficult pieces of evidence to contend with in a DUI case. However, there are many ways to point out the deficiencies of the Intoxilyzer 9000 It requires effort, knowledge and training to successfully argue these points to judges and juries.

For more information on Timeline Of DUI Process In Georgia, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (229) 207-0850 today.

Paul W. Hamilton, Esq.

Get your questions answered - call me for your free, 20 min strategy session (229) 207-0850