Can I be charged with DUI if I wasn't driving?

Posted by William H. Sherman on Nov 05, 2015 | 0 Comments

Question:    I wasn't even pulled over by a cop and I got a DUI.  I was on the side of Ga. 400 and a Forsyth deputy pulled over to see what was going on.  I just ran out of gas, I told him.  But I think he suspected that I'd been drinking because he asked a bunch of questions about where I'd been and if I had anything to drink.  I think he could smell the alcohol on my breath.

He wanted me to do some tests and I refused but I did take the breath test on the road and I took one at the Forsyth jail.  I blew a .118. 

I was at a friend's house just watching some football and I did have some drinks.  I didn't drink that much, but I guess I had a buzz from a few beers and two shots, but I wasn't drunk.

I want to know if the cop can arrest me for DUI even though I wasn't driving my car, I was just parked on the side of a road.  I had been parked for at least 15 minutes.

F.O. in Alpharetta, GA

Answer:    An officer can, of course, legally approach a car if that car is parked on the side of the road.  The Forsyth deputy likely thought that he or she would render assistance to a motorist in need of help. 

Under the circumstances that you describe, a police officer can investigate what he or she believes to be a potential DUI situation if they suspect you have been drinking and driving, even if you are parked.  As part of the investigation, the officer will want to determine how long it has been since you drove the car. 

It is not uncommon for a police officer to come to the aid of a motorist on the side of a roadway and to suspect, after observing the driver and speaking with them, that the driver may have been drinking.  When that happens, the policeman will often investigate or call another cop who has more DUI experience and training to question and field test the driver.

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William H. Sherman

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