Despite the challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, police officers are still on patrol and making traffic stops in the Atlanta metro area. Since many people still need to drive to get to work, medical appointments, child care, and purchase groceries and supplies, there are still a decent amount of cars on the road. For many police forces, it is business as usual – so make sure to mind all traffic laws as you normally would. We have had drivers contact our office this week reporting new DUI arrests in Bartow County, Paulding County, Hall County, City of Sandy Springs, Forsyth County, DeKalb County, Dawson County, Douglas County, and Atlanta.
Jurisdictions appear to be split regarding how to handle these new charges. Some cities and counties are still arresting people for DUI and making the accused report immediately to jail where they can await a bond being set. Others are allowing reporting for booking at a future date and/or bond hearings via video conferencing. There is no uniformity in these uncertain times. Please make sure to remember that the normal DUI laws remain in effect, and officers are not making exceptions when it comes to charging someone with being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. With statewide shelter in place restrictions being in effect for the next couple of weeks, you may be at increased likelihood of interacting with the police. Please be safe and keep driving (and drinking) to a minimum during this time.
Our law firm is also getting many calls from concerned residents of Georgia about the statewide shelter in place restrictions that Governor Kemp has recently ordered. Previously, several cities and counties had announced similar provisions, but it was a hodgepodge across the Atlanta metro area as to what was covered under the orders and where people could and could not travel. The new statewide order doesn't do much to clear up the confusion. Generally, citizens enjoy constitutional and statutory rights against having their vehicle randomly stopped. Even in DUI roadblock/checkpoint situations, law enforcement needs to pre-approve the time and location of the stop and then stop each and every vehicle that passes through the checkpoint. If officers are given broad discretion to stop people and question where they are going and why, this could lead to an increase in DUI investigations, where ordinarily a person would not have even been stopped.
Our advice is to be very careful when you decide to leave the house. If you are seen driving, there is a high probability you will be pulled over and investigated for a potential DUI.