Below are some of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to DUI arrests and legal representation. If you have any other questions, please contact The Patel Law Firm.

What do police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers on the roads?

1. Turning with a wide radius
2. Straddling center of lane marker
3. "Appearing to be drunk"
4. Almost striking object or vehicle
5. Weaving
6. Driving on other than designated highway
7. Swerving
8. Speed more than 10 mph below the limit
9. Stopping without cause in traffic lane
10. Following too closely
11. Drifting
12. Tires on center or lane marker
13. Braking erratically
14. Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
15. Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
16. Slow response to traffic signals
17. Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
18. Turning abruptly or illegally
19. Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
20. Headlights off

The list is based upon research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Administration.

If I'm stopped by a police officer and he or she asks me if I've been drinking, what should I say?

You are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions. A polite "I would like to speak with an attorney before I answer any questions" is a good reply. On the other hand, saying that you had one or two beers is not incriminating. It is not sufficient to cause intoxication and it may explain the odor of alcohol on the breath.

What is the officer looking for during the initial detention at the scene?

1. Flushed face
2. Red, watery, glassy and/or bloodshot eyes
3. Odor of alcohol on breath
4. Slurred speech
5. Fumbling with wallet trying to get license
6. Failure to comprehend the officer's questions
7. Staggering when exiting vehicle
8. Swaying/instability on feet
9. Leaning on car for support
10. Combative, argumentative, jovial or other "inappropriate" attitude
11. Soiled, rumpled, disorderly clothing
12. Stumbling while walking
13. Disorientation as to time and place
14. Inability to follow directions

These are traditional symptoms of intoxication taught at the police academies.

Do I have to say yes to a field sobriety test?

There is a wide range of field sobriety tests (FSTs), including heel-to-toe, finger-to-nose, one-leg stand, alphabet recitation, modified position of attention, fingers-to-thumb and hand pat. Most officers will use a set battery of three to five such tests. Unlike the chemical test, where refusal to submit may have serious consequences, you are not legally required to take any FSTs. The reality is that officers have usually made up their minds to arrest when they give the FSTs; the tests are simply additional evidence which the suspect inevitable fails. If you decide to take them, they will be used against you.

Can I keep my license after my first DUI arrest?

The officer will take your license when he or she arrests you for a DUI and will give you a form that is a temporary license for 45 days. If you refused the designated state test, which is different from the road test, your license will get suspended for one year after 45 days. If you took the test and your blood alcohol level was over .08, your license will get suspended as well. If this is the case, you will be eligible for a limited driving permit that would allow you to drive for the purposes of work, school, medical and court.

What is the punishment for drunk driving?

Generally speaking, a conviction for a first offense may involve a fine, a license suspension or restriction, attendance at a DUI education course for a period of time, and probation for perhaps three years. A short jail sentence may or may not be required. For a second offense, jail time is almost certainly required. Additional punishment may involve community service, ignition interlock devices and/or impounding of the vehicle.

How much could my first DUI conviction cost?

Your first DUI conviction could cost you more than $10,000 over your lifetime.

Why should I contact a lawyer as soon as possible?

There are certain things that need to be done in a timely manner. If you wait too long it may jeopardize your case and your ability to continue driving legally.

Why should I hire an experienced DUI attorney?

Drunk driving is a very complex field with increasingly harsh consequences. There is a minefield of complicated procedural, evidentiary, constitutional, sentencing and administrative license issues. A lawyer can review the case for defects, suppress evidence, compel discovery of such things as calibration and maintenance records for the breath machine, have blood samples independently analyzed, negotiate for a lesser charge or reduced sentence, obtain expert witnesses for trial, contest the administrative license suspension and more.

While I'm able to keep my fees reasonable, there are fees associated with legal representation. When you consider the consequences that come with a DUI conviction - higher insurance rates; court fees and fines; treatment programs and traffic schools; and possibly lost wages - it's imperative to hire an experienced DUI lawyer who can help reduce those consequences.

Why should I hire The Patel Law Firm to represent me in my DUI case?

My years as a prosecutor in state court has a tremendous impact on the DUI defense strategies I prepare for clients. As a prosecutor, my primary duties were to accuse misdemeanor cases and most of the trials I was involved in were DUI trials. I worked closely with police officers to build cases against the accused. I learned what officers do, how they do it and how they are supposed to do things. This knowledge, combined with multiple seminars I attend on cutting-edge issues regarding DUI laws, gives me the expertise to handle any DUI case. I'm a member of the National College for DUI Defense and I have taken the DUI alcohol detection course that cadets take and have attended Drug Recognition Expert courses, courses that specially trained officers take to recognize someone who may be driving under the influence of drugs. DUI laws and procedures are very technical and it takes someone who has dedicated significant time to learning this area of the law to be proficient in defending such cases.

Contact The Patel Law Firm

If you have been charged with DUI, contact my Savannah law office to schedule a free consultation. I can be reached through my online intake form or by calling 912-662-5498. My office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and I make myself available for weekend appointments and jail visits upon request.