The last thing someone headed home from a night out with friends or a social gathering wants is to see the flashing lights of a police cruiser in their rearview mirror. A Georgia police officer pulling someone over might suspect them of intoxication while driving.
Eventually, those suspicions could culminate in an arrest. Police officers trying to enforce the law in Georgia must comply with it themselves. There are only certain scenarios in which officers can lawfully take someone into state custody based on allegations of impaired driving.
After a failed breath test
Police officers who suspect someone of intoxication may ask them to exit the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests. Based either on someone’s field sobriety test performance or statements made by a driver, an officer may have probable cause to arrest them for a driving under the influence (DUI) infraction. Police officers can then arrest the individual if their test results show that they are over the per se limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
After someone refuses a breath test
Technically, officers who have probable cause to suspect chemical impairment can arrest someone immediately. However, they usually attempt to perform a chemical breath test to gather evidence about the degree of someone’s intoxication. If a driver refuses to perform a test when an officer already has the necessary probable cause to arrest them, they can end up in state custody and accused of violating both impaired driving and implied consent laws.
After a motor vehicle collision
When police officers arrive at the scene of a crash, they may ask everyone involved certain questions. The officer may reach the conclusion that they need to perform breath tests when someone admits to drinking earlier in the day or the other driver accuses them of unusual conduct in traffic. Those involved in collisions are often subject to more scrutiny than other drivers and could get arrested even if they were not the party who caused the crash if an officer can show that they were under the influence when the wreck occurred.
Understanding when the police can lawfully arrest someone for drunk driving may help people better handle an encounter with an officer. No matter how an arrest occurs however, it’s important for those who are facing criminal charges to seek legal guidance in order to better ensure that their rights remain protected moving forward.