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   Driving Under The Influence (DUI)

If you or a loved one has been arrested for Driving under the Influence (DUI), you need to retain an experienced DUI Lawyer.  Lawrence Lewis, P.C. provides a full-service approach to your DUI defense from the ALS hearing to protect your driving privileges, to the motions hearings and trial.  Hiring an experienced attorney early in your case is crucial to protecting your privilege to drive and increasing your chances of avoiding a DUI conviction.

 

In Georgia there are a number of ways to get arrested for DUI.  By statute, any person in physical control of any moving vehicle, can be arrested for being under the influence of: (1) alcohol, whether the person’s alcohol concentration is .08 grams or the person is just less safe; (2) controlled substances, like cocaine and marijuana; (3) prescription medication; (4) glue, aerosol or other toxic vapor; or (5) any combination of two or more of these substances.

 

After any DUI or DWI (driving while intoxicated) arrest in Georgia, there are actually two different types of cases pending against the driver:

 

The Criminal Case.

 

First, you will answer the misdemeanor criminal charge of DUI in the Georgia State Court System.  The clerk of court will mail you notice of your first court date (i.e. arraignment, where you will plead guilty or not guilty) around five months after your arrest.  In order to preserve your rights, your DUI attorney will file pre-trial motions.  Many times your attorney can waive your appearance at many of these court dates saving you additional stress, aggravation and embarrassment, while your attorney methodically fights each part of the case.

 

The Civil Case with the DMV.

 

Second, in many DUI cases, the officer will take your driver`s license and file the paperwork for the DMV to suspend your driving privilege if you either refuse to take a chemical test (e.g. breathalyzer), or take the test and blow .08 or higher on the breathalyzer machine.  Immediately after your arrest for DUI, you need to retain a DUI attorney, so he/she can demand an administrative license suspension (ALS) hearing within 10 days of your arrest.  It is critical for you to understand: If you refuse to take the requested chemical test at the time of the DUI arrest, and fail to request an ALS hearing within ten days, thirty days after the officer took your driver’s license, your driving privilege will be suspended, even if the DMV has issued you another physical license.  The suspension is known as a “hard suspension” because you will not be able to procure a driving permit or any other type of documentation to drive a vehicle for at least one year.  The ALS hearing is a critical part of fighting your DUI case.  There is no downside to requesting a formal review hearing as explained in greater detail below.

 

ACT QUICKLY!

 

Your Georgia DUI lawyer will only have 10 calendar days after your DUI arrest to file a demand for an ALS hearing to protect your driving privileges.

 

AN OVERVIEW

 

· What to Expect after a DUI Arrest in Georgia

· Motions to Suppress or Exclude Evidence in the Georgia DUI Case

· DUI Roadblock or Checkpoint in Georgia                               

· 10 Day Rule and the Formal Review Hearing

· Over the Legal Limit - Breath Test Reading over 0.08%

· Refusal to Submit to DUI Breath Test under Georgia Law

· Legal Definition of DUI - Two Ways to Prove the Case in Florida

· Penalties for DUI

 

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER A DUI ARREST

 

After your arrest for DUI in Georgia, you will receive notification of your arraignment date and assignment to a particular judge.   If you hire a DUI lawyer to represent you prior to the arraignment, your attorney will usually file a written plea of "not guilty" and a waive arraignment form which will excuse you from appearing at the first court date.

 

Prior to arraignment, your attorney must also file a motion to attack the legal sufficiency of the charging document, as well as other motions including a demand for discovery.  After arraignment, you will have several court dates, which allow both your defense attorney and the prosecutor to inform the judge about the status of the case, and whether the case is ready for trial.

 

In many cases, your attorney can excuse you from appearing for the calendar call dates (also known as status court dates).  After the investigation has been completed, which may include reviewing the dash camera that captured the vehicle stop and/or field sobriety tests, your case will be scheduled for a pre-trial conference and trial.  Although many people do not want their DUI case to go to trial, these cases are usually resolved with the best possible outcome only after the attorney has fought the case aggressively and shown the prosecutor that you are willing and able to go to trial to fight for a "not guilty" verdict.  Each court date is critical to your defense. An experience Georgia attorney can fight to have your charges completely dropped, or for a negotiated resolution of your case to a reduced charge.

 

FIGHTING THE DUI MAY SAVE YOU MONEY

 

Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer to fight your case may help you avoid a conviction which may save you thousands of dollars in fines, court costs, expenses for DUI school, time and energy to complete 50 hours of community service and drastically increased insurance premiums.  Avoiding a DUI conviction in Georgia will also save you thousands of dollars each year for the next three (3) to five (5) years in increased car insurance premiums.

 

The most common way to avoid a DUI conviction occurs when the prosecutor agrees to amend the DUI charge to "reckless driving."  If the officer`s decision to stop the vehicle was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, then all evidence in the case could be excluded which could leads to all charges being dropped.  Your attorney will discuss these options with you which depend almost entirely on the particular facts and circumstances of your case.

 

At Lawrence Lewis, P.C., our attorneys represent people in many difference professions charged with DUI in Georgia, including college students, nurses, public school teachers, commercial truck drivers and business professionals.  Even if you are not convicted of DUI, merely being arrested on the charge may also bring immediately consequences to your educational or career opportunities, especially if you have special certifications.

 

Many insurance companies also charge higher premiums for life, medical and disability insurance to an individual with a Florida DUI conviction.

 

MOTION TO SUPPRESS OR EXCLUDE EVIDENCE IN YOUR DUI CASE

 

One of the most effective ways to fight your Georgia DUI case is to file and litigate motions to suppress or exclude certain evidence in your case, including:

 

1. Showing that the initial stop of the vehicle was without reasonable suspension or probable cause under Georgia law;

 

2. Attacking procedures used by the police in performing a roadblock (or checkpoint stop) of  your vehicle;

 

3. Arguing that the officer made an arrest before sufficient probable cause existed to indicate that you were driving under the influence;

 

4. Demonstrating that the law enforcement officer violated your rights by not advising you of your Miranda warnings;

 

5. Attacking that the results of your breath test because of problems with the maintenance or calibration of the machine;

 

6. Showing that the officer did not preserve evidence, including a video tape of your driving pattern, performance on the roadside tests, or alleged refusal;

 

7. Showing the officer administered the roadside sobriety tests improperly;

 

8. Showing that your implied consent warnings were not properly given, thereby making any mention of your alleged "refusal" inadmissible; or

 

9. Using special defenses that may be available to you depending on the particular facts of the case.

 By filing and litigating a motion to suppress or exclude, your attorney can fight to dismantle the prosecutor`s case one piece of evidence at a time.  If any evidence is excluded then the prosecutor`s chances for a successful prosecution can drop dramatically.  By aggressively litigating motions to suppress and exclude evidence, we can often create the best opportunities for our clients to avoid a conviction.

 

DUI ROADBLOCK AND DUI CHECKPOINT CASES

 

Law enforcement officers in Georgia must normally have probable cause to believe that a crime or traffic infraction has occurred before they can stop a vehicle.  One of the few exceptions to this rule is when the officers stop a vehicle during a DUI roadblock or DUI checkpoint.

 

If you were arrested in Georgia for a DUI after being stopped in a roadblock or checkpoint, call our office to speak with an experienced attorney about filing a motion to suppress.  If any of the strict requirements for the DUI roadblock were not followed by the arresting officers, then your entire case could be dismissed even if you had an extraordinarily high breath test result.

 

The Georgia courts require that before a DUI roadblock is proper under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and Georgia law, a set of highly detailed written guidelines must be established. Police officers in Gwinnett County, Fulton County, DeKalb County, Cobb County, Hall County, Cherokee County, Barrow County, Walton County, Douglas County, Henry County, Rockdale County  and Forsyth County often make mistakes in drafting or executing the DUI roadblock guidelines.

 

The field officers conducting the DUI roadblock must also follow strict procedures in determining which vehicles to stop. The field officers are typically not allowed to stop certain vehicles that look suspicious, while letting other vehicles pass through. The written DUI guidelines must establish exactly how vehicles are to be selected and the procedures used after the stop occurs.  For instance, the police may articulate in the plan that every third vehicle is to be stopped.  By articulating such a rule for a Georgia DUI roadblock, the officers are not able to deviate from that plan and stop vehicles that they deem "suspicious" while at the scene.

 

Under Georgia law, if the prosecutor does not meet the burden of showing that the DUI operational plan sufficiently limited the ability of the field officers to select vehicle, or that the field officers did not follow the plan, and then all evidence of the DUI must be suppressed. That means the officers can not testify about the fact that your vehicle was stopped or use any evidence gathered after the stop. If the officers found drugs in the vehicle after the bad stop, all of the physical evidence may  also be thrown out.

 

After winning a DUI motion to suppress because of a bad stop in a DUI roadblock, the  prosecutor is usually forced to drop the charges or the court may be required to dismiss the charge.

 

ADMINISTRATIVE LICENSE SUSPENSION (ALS) HEARING

 

After a DUI arrest, the officer typically takes your Georgia Driver`s License and issues you a temporary driving permit.  After your arrest, you have only 10 days to request a formal review hearing to fight the administrative suspension of your driver`s license.  Contact our office today, and we can prepare all of the necessary paperwork to schedule the administrative hearing.  The suspension of your driver’s license can only be avoided by winning the administrative hearing.

 

Additionally, by conducting a thorough investigation of your case prior to your administrative  hearing, we are able to question the officer that conducted the stop of your vehicle and the arresting officer under oath, if they appear in court.  Many times officers do not appear for the hearing, in which case, your license will not be suspended.  If the officers do appear, the testimony from the administrative hearing can be used to "impeach" the officers at trial or a motion hearing, if their testimony in court differs from their testimony at the administrative hearing.  Additionally, a transcript of the testimony at the hearing can be provided to the prosecutor to demonstrate weaknesses in the case, so that the best pre-trial negotiations can be achieved.

 

BREATH TEST READING OVER 0.08%

 

Georgia law provides that if you blew over the legal limit of .08%, and fail to request an administrative hearing, then your driver`s license will be suspended for a period of six (6) months for a first offense or one year for any subsequent offense.  During that six month period for a first DUI, you will have a thirty (30) day "hard suspension," which means that you cannot drive for any reason, even to and from work.

 

After the "hard suspension" period has been completed, you can apply for a work/school permit, or hardship driver`s license which may allow you to drive under certain circumstances, including to and from work, and/or school.

 

REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO DUI BREATH TEST UNDER GEORGIA LAW

 

The good news about a Georgia DUI Refusal to Submit to Testing Case is when the State of Georgia attempts to prosecute a DUI case, the strongest evidence is usually the results of a chemical test, including a breath test, blood test, or urine test showing that the driver was intoxicated with alcohol, prescription drugs, or a controlled substance.  If the driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, then the prosecutor no longer has that evidence.

 

Instead, the prosecutor will then attempt to admit evidence that the driver "refused" to submit to the test and other circumstantial evidence.  The prosecutor will argue that this refusal demonstrates a "guilty conscience" or the driver`s belief that if he submitted to the chemical test, the test results would show that he was intoxicated from alcohol or impaired by prescription drugs or other controlled substances.

 

In determining whether to admit or exclude the evidence that the driver refused to submit to the test, the Court will consider Georgia constitutional provisions, Georgia rules of evidence and Georgia statutory rules.  Furthermore, if the law enforcement officer violates a driver`s constitutional or statutory rights before the blood, breath or urine test, then the Court can exclude or throw out any evidence that the defendant declined to take the chemical test.

 

Conversely, the bad news about Georgia DUI Refusal to Submit to Testing Case is the  consequences to your driver license are even more drastic when it is alleged that you refused to submit to a chemical test. If you refused to take the chemical test after being advised of the Georgia "implied consent warnings" then your Georgia driver`s license may be suspended for 12 months.  The entire twelve months constitutes a "hard suspension," which means that you cannot drive for any reason, even to and from work. 

 

TWO WAYS TO PROVE DUI

 

In Georgia, there are two different theories that the prosecutor can use to attempt to prove that you are guilty of DUI. First, the prosecutor can attempt to show that you were under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicating substance to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired due to alcohol intoxication or drug impairment.  Second, the prosecutor can attempt to show that your performance on a chemical test, such as a breath or blood test showed a blood alcohol level of .08% or above.  Regardless of the theory under which your case is prosecuted, the penalties for DUI are generally the same.

 

PENALTIES FOR DUI

(1)  1st conviction – mandatory $ 300 to $ 1,000 fine, plus surcharges, 10 days to 12 months in jail, with the balance probated, 40 hours of community service, DUI driving course and clinical evaluation for alcohol dependency.

 

(2)   2nd conviction – mandatory $ 600 to $ 1,000 fine, plus surcharges, 90 days to 12 months in jail, with the balance probated, 30 days of community service, DUI driving course and clinical evaluation for alcohol dependency.

 

(3)    3rd conviction – mandatory $ 1000 to $ 5,000 fine, plus surcharges, 120 days to 12 months in jail, with the balance probated, 30 days of community service, DUI driving course and clinical evaluation for alcohol dependency.

 

(4)   4th conviction – if you have a 4th or subsequent conviction, I will be recommending in-patient treatment for alcohol dependency to both you and the prosecutor. 

 

RECENT CASES

 

CASE: State of Georgia v. Willie Jerry Stewart (# 11D-4151-4)

 

RESULT: (February, 2012) One day jury trial on DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and Failure to Maintain Lane.  Before the jury was ever able to deliberate, judge granted a DIRECTED VERDICT on the DUI (i.e. not enough evidence to let the case go to the jury), and client pled guilty to Failure to Maintain Lane.

 

FACTS: Client, who had a few drinks, was stopped while traveling with a friend.  The officer alleged that client failed to maintain in lane, which is why he conducted the traffic stop.  Officer observed bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.  No field evaluations were performed, but client blew in alcosensor, which gave a relatively high reading.  Client was unable to blow in the breathalyzer machine at the police station, because of a health problem, for which he was taking medication.  After listening carefully to the evidence, judge granted a DIRECTED VERDICT on the DUI charge, opining there was not enough to send the case to the jury.

 


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Lawrence Lewis is an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer practicing as Drug Attorney, License Suspension Lawyers, Sex Offense Attorney, Traffic Citation Lawyer, Misdemeanor Offenses Attorneys, Felony Offenses Lawyer, Bond Lawyer, Armed Robber Attorney, dui lawyer, Preliminary Hearing serving Lawrenceville, Gwinnett Country, Metro Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Marietta, Buford, Fulton County, Canton, Decatur, Norcross, Woodstock, Stone Mountain, Duluth and Cumming .

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