Myths dispelled about DUI arrest procedures

By Vickie Snow

Driving under the influence is a serious offense that is surrounded by myths.

Sergeant Ron Pearson of the City of DeKalb Police Department explained the procedure of making a DUI arrest.

State law mandates that first-time offenders have their driver’s licenses suspended for three months. But if the offender refuses to take the breathalyzer test, his license is suspended for six months.

For an individual to get arrested for a DUI, the police officer must have probable cause to stop the car, observing a violation of some sort—speeding or a broken tail light. Probable cause is defined as “what a reasonable person would believe to be true in the same circumstances,” Pearson said.

The officer then stops the car and asks to see the driver’s license and his proof of insurance. If he determines a need to do so, the officer asks the driver to participate in several sobriety tests—walking a line, lifting a foot and counting, following an object with his eye and reciting the alphabet.

If the driver fails the tests, he is placed under arrest and handcuffed with his arms behind his back. The offender is then taken to the police station where a trained officer administers the breathalyzer test. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is .10, and the average offender’s BAC is .18. “Something you may see in the next couple years is a legal BAC of .08,” Pearson said.

In order for the offender to get out of jail, he must post $100. Costs for hiring an attorney range from $7,000 to $1,500. Offenders also must pay for a court-mandated alcohol assessment which determines the individual’s habitual drinking level.

If the DUI involves killing someone, the charge is reckless homicide and carries the same weight as involuntary manslaughter.