Question: It's been a hard winter so far here in North Fulton County. I had the shingles and the flu. So I went out to celebrate last weekend and I ordered some Pappy Van Winkle, which is very expensive bourbon. We were eating at a restaurant on Canton Street in Roswell. After the Pappy Van Winkle I had some WhistlePig rye. I spent some money on some good drinks to unwind. But when I drove home I got stopped on Alpharetta Highway by a Roswell policeman.
He said he stopped me because I didn't have my seat belt on. Finally, after about 20 minutes, he arrested me for DUI. I took the breath test and it was high. It's my second DUI; the first one was 22 years ago in Florida.
Since the Roswell cop didn't arrest me for any driving infraction, I was wondering if he could stop me and then arrest me for DUI just because I wasn't wearing my seat belt. I think he could smell alcohol on my breath because he asked me how much I had to drink. I just said I had a couple of drinks. I told him I wasn't drunk.
It really doesn't seem fair that I got arrested because I think my driving was fine; I wasn't speeding and I didn't get into an accident. Can an officer stop my car just because of a seat belt violation and charge me with drunk driving?
K.R. in Roswell
Answer: Under Georgia law, a police officer can stop you if you are not wearing a seat belt. In fact, many police departments have been pushing their officers to stop more cars for seat belt violations.
If the cop smells alcohol he can investigate further by asking you certain questions (like have you had anything to drink) and he can administer field sobriety tests (which you can decline to do). If he believes you are a less safe driver due to drinking, he will arrest you for DUI.
We have had a number of clients who were stopped for a seat belt issue and subsequently arrested for DUI. All drivers should do the safe thing and always wear a seat belt. And that is even more true for drivers who have been drinking.
As leading DUI lawyers, we understand what you are going through. And we know what you are up against. When you need a Roswell DUI lawyer, just call us at (678) 215-4106.
Let our experience and connections help you. Our real life experience includes having served as a Magistrate Judge, an Assistant Attorney General and as an Assistant County Attorney.
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