handing over license

Will a DUI Result in Points on My License in Georgia?

Georgia uses a point system to track and penalize drivers who have multiple driving violations. As a driver accumulates points on his or her driving record, he or she becomes subject to penalties. For example, a driver may have several minor driving violations on his or her record that may not seem very serious when viewed individually. When viewed in the aggregate, however, it may become clear that the driver poses a serious threat to other drivers. A DUI conviction is a serious driving offense, so it makes sense to expect such a crime to result in points on one’s license. As we explain below, however, this isn’t the case. 

Points and License Suspension

If you accumulate enough points on your license in Georgia, your license will be suspended. In making a suspension determination, Georgia reviews the previous 24 months of a driver’s record. A driver who has accumulated 15 or more points in that period may have his or her license suspended. For drivers who are 21 years old and younger, only four points are necessary for a license suspension. A driver who has a license suspended due to a points violation will have his or her driving privileges revoked and will be forced to pay a fine.

The more serious the traffic incident, the more points a driver accrues. Reckless driving, unlawfully passing a school bus, and driving more than 34 mph over the speed limit all carry the highest amount of points. If a driver engages in a serious violation, his or her license will be automatically suspended. One such violation is driving under the influence. 

DUI and Georgia’s Point System 

As noted above, a DUI does not result in the accumulation of points on one’s license. However, even though no points are assessed for a DUI, the consequences can still be quite serious. For a first-time DUI, a driver can lose his or her license for up to a year. After six months, a driver may be able to have his or her license reinstated if he or she:

  • already has had his or her license suspended for 120 days,
  • completes a DUI alcohol risk reduction program, and
  • pays a fine.

However, this reinstatement isn’t for joy riding. Rather, it only allows a driver to drive to and from work, school, medical appointments, and treatment programs. In other words, a DUI conviction is no laughing matter. Therefore, if you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you should seek legal assistance as soon as possible. 

Contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney 

If you’re facing a DUI charge in the state of Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney in your corner. When you bring your DUI case to Carter Pilgrim Stroud, we’ll review your Georgia DUI case and formulate an effective legal strategy. Our attorneys are well known in Georgia for aggressively defending clients in the courtroom and obtaining favorable results at the negotiating table. So, if you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.  

Posted in DUI
DUI

Can I Have My Georgia DUI Expunged?

A DUI conviction isn’t a good thing to have on your record. Therefore, it’s only natural for a person who has a DUI arrest or conviction on his or her record to want to have it removed. The removal of a DUI conviction or arrest from one’s record, also known as expungement, is a court-ordered process by which an arrest or criminal conviction is erased from a person’s record. Some states allow for the expungement of DUI convictions if certain conditions are met. In this article, we examine the issue of DUI expungement in Georgia. 

DUI Expungement in Georgia

Unfortunately, Georgia does not allow DUI expungement. If you get a DUI in Georgia, you face serious penalties. In addition, a DUI on your record can make it difficult for you to get a job, obtain certain loans, or even find adequate housing. 

DUI Expungement Alternative

If you are arrested for DUI in Georgia but aren’t convicted, you can apply for a record restriction. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a record restriction is not the same as expungement. Even after your record is restricted, your arrest may still be viewed by: 

  • Boards of realtors
  • Judges 
  • Nursing boards
  • State bars 
  • Medical boards
  • Prosecutors
  • Police officers

In addition, a record restriction doesn’t automatically occur when your Georgia DUI case is dismissed. Rather, your criminal record will reflect that your Georgia DUI case was dismissed.  In order to have your record restricted, you must apply with the state. However, the only way that the prosecution will consider restricting your record is if your DUI charge is completely dismissed. 

If your record restriction is successful, private businesses will not be able to see your DUI arrest.  However, police officers, prosecutors, and government agencies will still be able to see the offense. In fact, if you have a subsequent DUI arrest, the prosecution and the judge can use it against you during sentencing

The Bottom Line

If you take away anything from this article, it should be this: you should avoid a Georgia DUI conviction at all costs. You cannot expunge a Georgia DUI conviction from your record. In other words, a Georgia DUI conviction will follow you around for the rest of your life. Therefore, if you are facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you should contact a Georgia DUI attorney immediately for assistance.

Contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney

If you’re facing a DUI charge in the state of Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney in your corner. When you bring your DUI case to Carter Pilgrim Stroud, we’ll review your Georgia DUI case and formulate an effective legal strategy. Our attorneys are well known in Georgia for aggressively defending clients in the courtroom and obtaining favorable results at the negotiating table. So, if you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.  

prescription drug

Can You Get a DUI for Prescription Drug Use?

Most people associate DUI arrests with alcohol or illegal drugs. However, these aren’t the only substances that can result in a DUI arrest. In fact, an officer can arrest a driver for operating a vehicle while under the influence of prescription drugs. 

Prescription Drugs and Driving

It is not illegal to take prescription medication and drive. There are many types of prescription medications, and a lot of them have no affect on a person’s ability to operate a vehicle. In other words, prescription medication use does not automatically make a person an impaired driver. However, as noted above, there are circumstances under which a driver may be charged with DUI for prescription drug use. 

Reasonable Suspicion 

In Georgia, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired in order to make a DUI traffic stop. Following such a stop, the officer may request that the driver take a chemical test. If the test comes back positive for certain prescription drugs, the state will likely charge the driver with DUI, regardless of whether he or she has a prescription for the substance in question. A driver can refuse chemical testing, but this can later be used against him or her in court.  

Unsafe Operation of a Motor Vehicle 

When determining whether to arrest a driver for a prescription drug use DUI, an officer will assess whether the medication or medications in question impaired the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle. Following an arrest for DUI, the state will determine whether to move forward with a DUI charge. 

Prescription Drugs and Alcohol

Although there is no law in Georgia that forbids people from driving while on prescription medication, a person can be charged with DUI if his or her ability to drive is impaired due to the use of a prescription medication. However, police officers are often unfamiliar with what constitutes a safe amount of prescription drug use, and this often results in wrongful arrests. This is particularly true if a breath or blood test detects alcohol and prescription drugs in a driver’s system. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors often assume that even small amounts of alcohol cause dangerous impairment when mixed with prescription medications. This isn’t always the case, however, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can dispute this in court.

Contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you’ve been charged with DUI in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney on your side. At Carter Pilgrim, our experienced and talented Georgia criminal defense attorneys will review your case and determine the best legal strategy for your Georgia DUI case. We have a strong reputation in Georgia for our success in both litigation and negotiations. Therefore, if you need the assistance of a criminal defense attorney in Georgia, please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an initial consultation.  

DUI stop

Common Mistakes Georgia Police Make During DUI Stops

Police officers are eager to get drunk drivers off the street. However, in their eagerness to curb drunk driving, police officers sometimes make mistakes. Any time a police officer fails to follow the law during a DUI stop, the arrested driver may challenge the DUI charge. Below are some of the most common mistakes Georgia police make during DUI stops. If you are facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you should contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney for assistance. 

No reasonable suspicion

A law enforcement officer can only stop a vehicle if he or she has reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation or crime has occurred. In other words, a police officer must be able to articulate a valid reason for the stop. Even a minor reason, such as a busted taillight, is enough to justify a traffic stop. Police officers, however, are sometimes unable to articulate why they pulled a driver over. If a police officer pulls a driver over without reasonable suspicion, any charges incurred as a result of the illegal stop will be dropped. 

DUI checkpoint mistakes

Police are permitted to set up DUI checkpoints to check for drunk drivers. However, they must follow strict guidelines when doing so. For example, they may only stop random samples of vehicles, they can’t detain people too long after stopping them, and they can’t pursue drivers who turn around to avoid the checkpoint. Police routinely break these and other rules, giving drivers arrested at DUI checkpoints ammunition to fight their charges. 

Field sobriety test mistakes

After stopping a car, the police sometimes request that a driver perform field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are notoriously unreliable. Not only can certain medical conditions and medications cause drivers to fail these tests, but officers frequently conduct them improperly. Any time a field sobriety test mistake results in a DUI charge, the driver can challenge it in court. 

Chemical test mistakes

A common way that the authorities identify drunk drivers is by administering chemical tests, such as blood and breath tests. Blood and breath tests are designed to measure the blood alcohol content of drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence. However, chemical tests aren’t foolproof. Issues that can cause incorrect chemical test readings to include:

  • Failure to properly calibrate chemical testing machines and devices,
  • Failure to properly clean chemical testing machines and devices, and
  • Failure to observe a driver to make sure he or she doesn’t do anything that could affect the accuracy of the test. 

Contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney 

If you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney on your side. At Carter Pilgrim Stroud, our knowledgeable Georgia criminal defense attorneys will analyze the facts of your case and determine the best course of action for your Georgia criminal case. We are well known in Georgia for our success in court and at the negotiation table. Therefore, if you’ve been charged with DUI in Georgia, please contact us to schedule an initial consultation.  

Posted in DUI
cop car pulling over someone for DUI

What Should I Do if I’m Stopped for DUI?

There are few things scarier than being stopped by a police officer on suspicion of DUI. For most people, this kind of police interaction is a nerve-wracking and unwelcome experience. However, if you’re ever pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the last thing you want to do is make things worse for yourself. Below are some tips for dealing with the police after you’ve been stopped for DUI. 

I’ve been stopped for a DUI, what do I do?

Turn off your vehicle and place your hands on the wheel. The first thing you should do after being pulled over by the police is turn off your vehicle and place your hands on the steering wheel. This assures the officer that you aren’t a threat and signals your willingness to cooperate. 

Be cooperative. Even if you don’t think the officer has a valid reason for pulling you over, never argue. Arguing can only make the situation worse. 

Don’t answer questions. Other than providing your name and other identifying information, don’t volunteer any information or answer any of the officer’s questions. Anything you say during the stop can be used against you later in court. 

Understand your obligations regarding field sobriety tests. Police officers administer field sobriety tests to observe you for signs of intoxication. Common field sobriety tests include the finger-to-nose test, the one-leg stand test, and the walk-and-turn test. Field sobriety tests are often inaccurate, and they routinely fail to hold up in court. In Georgia, drivers are not required to consent to field sobriety tests. In most cases, drivers have little to gain and much to lose by consenting to field sobriety tests. 

Understand your obligations regarding chemical tests. As opposed to field sobriety tests, Georgia drivers are required by law to submit to chemical testing. Specifically, a driver must consent to a chemical test if requested to do so by a police officer who has probable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The failure to consent to a chemical test has legal consequences. Following a driver’s refusal, the officer will confiscate his or her license and issue a 30-day driving permit. If the driver fails to request a hearing to challenge the suspension, the state will revoke his or her driving privileges for one year. 

Contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney 

If you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, our Georgia criminal defense attorney will fight for you. When you come to Carter Pilgrim Stroud for your legal needs, our talented legal professionals will analyze the facts that led to your Georgia DUI arrest and determine the most effective legal strategy for your Georgia criminal case. We are well known in Georgia for aggressively defending clients in the courtroom and obtaining favorable results at the negotiating table. Therefore, if you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.  

Posted in DUI
man taking field sobriety test

Are Field Sobriety Tests Accurate?

Field sobriety tests are a method used by law enforcement officers to help determine whether a driver is intoxicated. Unfortunately, however, they aren’t always accurate. Therefore, if you are a Georgia driver, it’s important that you understand what field sobriety tests are and why they can be problematic for sober drivers. Below is an overview of field sobriety tests in Georgia. For additional information on field sobriety tests in Georgia, please contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney

Common field sobriety tests

There are three standard field sobriety tests: the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. 

One-leg stand: The one-leg stand requires a driver to raise one leg approximately six inches off the ground. Then, the driver counts in thousands while looking downward and keeping his or her hands at his or her sides until instructed to stop by the police officer. Signs of intoxication while performing this test include swaying, hopping, putting a foot down, and using arms for balance.

Walk-and-turn: This test requires a driver to perform a specific number of heel-to-toe steps on a real or imaginary line, turn around, and perform the same number of heel-to-toe steps in the opposite direction. Signs of intoxication while performing this test include starting the test before instructions have been completed, difficulty balancing, stopping while walking, failing to walk heel to toe, stepping off the line, and taking the wrong number of steps.

Horizontal gaze nystagmus: The horizontal nystagmus test requires a driver to follow an object with his or her eyes. Nystagmus (an involuntary jerking of the eyes) before the eyes reach a 45-degree angle is a sign of intoxication.

Accuracy of field sobriety tests 

As noted above, field sobriety tests can be inaccurate. In fact, in a recent study, the one-leg stand was found to be only 65 percent accurate, the walk-and-turn test was found to be only 68 percent accurate, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test was found to be only 77 percent accurate. 

How sober drivers fail field sobriety tests

One reason for the inaccuracy of field sobriety tests is that numerous cognitive and physical conditions can mimic the signs of intoxication. Issues that can lead sober people to fail field sobriety tests include:

  • Inner ear problems
  • Poor balance 
  • Speech impediments 
  • Injuries
  • Obesity
  • Mental impairments

Contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney 

If you’ve been charged with DUI in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney on your side. At Carter Pilgrim Stroud, our talented Georgia criminal defense attorneys will analyze the facts that led to your arrest and determine the best legal strategy for your Georgia criminal case. We are well known in Georgia for successfully defending clients in the courtroom and obtaining favorable plea bargains and dismissals. Therefore, if you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, please contact us to schedule an initial consultation.  

Posted in DUI
Man looking at breathalyzer test

The Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test in Georgia

Being pulled over by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) can be a scary experience. Often, when a police officer pulls over a driver on suspicion of DUI, he or she requests that the driver take a breathalyzer test. Drivers often feel compelled to do whatever a police officer asks of them, so many take the breathalyzer test without a second thought. However, as we discuss below, drivers in Georgia aren’t required to submit to a breathalyzer test when requested by the police. A driver’s refusal to take a breathalyzer test, though, can have consequences. Below is an overview of the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test in Georgia. For additional information, please contact one of our experienced Georgia DUI attorneys

Refusal isn’t illegal 

It isn’t illegal to refuse a breathalyzer test in Georgia. Therefore, it is within a driver’s right to refuse to take a breathalyzer test when asked to do so by a police officer. The only way police in Georgia can force a driver to take a breathalyzer test is with a search warrant. Further, evidence of a driver’s refusal to take a breathalyzer test can’t be introduced in court. This means that a judge or jury’s opinion of a driver can’t be influenced by his or her refusal to take a breathalyzer test. However, although refusing a breathalyzer test isn’t illegal and can’t be used against a driver in court, there are consequences for refusing a breathalyzer test in Georgia. 

Consequences of refusal 

One of the consequences of refusing to take a breathalyzer test in Georgia is a one-year license suspension. If a driver refuses a second breathalyzer test within five years of the initial suspension, this period will be extended. And although it’s true that refusing to take a breathalyzer test may possibly prevent a DUI charge in some situations, the loss of one’s license for a year or more is by no means inconsequential. On the bright side, however, a driver whose license is suspended for refusal to take a breathalyzer test may file an appeal within 30 days of the suspension. Regardless of whether a license suspension or DUI charge is involved, a driver who has been arrested on suspicion of DUI should immediately contact a Georgia DUI lawyer for help. 

Contact a Georgia DUI lawyer 

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia DUI attorney in your corner. At Carter Pilgrim, our talented DUI attorneys have a long track record of DUI litigation and negotiation success. Whether we’re in the courtroom or at the negotiation table, our talented attorneys will do everything in our power to ensure that your DUI charge is dismissed or reduced. Therefore, if you’ve been arrested for DUI in Georgia, please contact us for a consultation today.

Posted in DUI
Man drinking and driving, holding a beer bottle.

Reasons to Fight Your Georgia DUI Charge

If you’ve been charged with DUI in Georgia and are considering pleading guilty, you should first examine the reasons that you may want to fight your DUI charge. Many people believe that a  guilty plea is the best way to move on with their lives after a DUI arrest. In reality, however, a DUI conviction can have serious consequences, many of which can affect your life for years to come. Therefore, while a guilty plea may be appropriate in some situations, you should never make this decision without first understanding why fighting your DUI charge may be in your best interests. Below are reasons to fight your Georgia DUI charge. For additional guidance, please contact a Georgia DUI attorney

The Consequences of a DUI Conviction in Georgia

If you plead guilty to your DUI charge, you will certainly be convicted barring some exceptional occurrence. Therefore, the primary reason to fight your Georgia DUI charge is to avoid the consequences of a DUI conviction. As noted above, a DUI conviction can negatively affect your life in numerous ways. In Georgia, a DUI conviction can result in the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fines of up to $1000
  • Court costs
  • Surcharges
  • Mandatory alcohol abuse treatment
  • Mandatory driver education classes
  • Driver license suspension
  • Community service

In addition, a Georgia DUI conviction can result in other non-criminal consequences, including:

  • Increased auto insurance premiums
  • Loss of your job and difficulty finding new employment
  • Inability to obtain certain professional licenses
  • Difficulty obtaining approval for certain loans
  • Towing charges
  • License reinstatement fees

How to Fight a DUI Charge

Luckily, if you’ve been charged with DUI in Georgia, your Georgia DUI attorney has multiple options available to fight the charge. Possible defenses to a Georgia DUI include: 

  • The initial stop was illegal.
  • The breathalyzer test was inaccurate. 
  • The field sobriety tests were inaccurate.  
  • The officer who administered the breathalyzer test lacked the credentials to properly operate the device. 
  • The officer skipped the required observation period prior to the administration of the breathalyzer test. 
  • The hospital blood test was inaccurate.  
  • The arresting officer has questionable credibility due to his or her poor disciplinary record. 
  • Health problems resulted in failed field sobriety tests and breathalyzer/blood tests.
  • The officer lacked probable cause. 

Let Us Fight for You  

If you want to fight your DUI charges in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia DUI attorney on your side. At Carter Pilgrim Stroud, our talented DUI attorneys have a long track record of DUI defense success. Our attorneys are experienced litigators and skilled negotiators, and we’re well known for our courtroom success and ability to obtain favorable plea bargains and dismissals. Therefore, if you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, please contact us for a consultation as soon as possible.

Posted in DUI
Glasses of alcohol and car keys representing a DUI

Facing Your First DUI in Georgia

If you’re facing your first DUI charge in Georgia, you have every right to be concerned. Georgia treats DUI arrests seriously, and the consequences of a first DUI conviction can be severe. Even if you’ve never been arrested before, a first-time DUI conviction can result in fines, jail time, and other penalties. Therefore, following your first DUI arrest in Georgia, you should take every step necessary to have your charge reduced or dismissed. The best way to fight your first DUI charge in Georgia is to hire an experienced Georgia DUI attorney. Below is an overview of the potential consequences of your first DUI in Georgia. 

 

Criminal Penalties

 

Some people make the mistake of failing to take a first DUI charge in Georgia seriously. This is a big mistake. A first DUI conviction in Georgia is a misdemeanor that carries many potential penalties. Therefore, if you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, it is in your best interest to contact a Georgia DUI attorney as soon as possible. If convicted of a first DUI in Georgia, you face the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in jail,
  • A fine of up to $1000,
  • Up to 40 hours of community service, 
  • Mandatory clinical evaluation for alcohol dependency, and
  • Completion of a drug or alcohol treatment program for substance abuse at your own expense.

In addition, most first-time DUI offenders are placed on probation for at least 12 months, which means that any violation of the law during this time will result in additional sentencing. However, the criminal penalties associated with a first DUI conviction in Georgia are not the only consequences you may face. 

 

Administrative Penalties

 

In addition to criminal penalties, a first DUI conviction in Georgia can result in administrative penalties. The most damaging administrative penalty resulting from a DUI conviction in Georgia is the suspension of one’s license for a period of one year. If your license is suspended, this can clearly affect your ability to travel to and from work, attend mandatory appointments, and conduct other important activities. In addition, a driver whose license is suspended due to a DUI conviction isn’t eligible for license reinstatement for at least 90 days from the date of suspension. And to make matters worse, there is a fee required for reinstatement. A driver may request an administrative hearing to fight this suspension within 30 days of arrest, but this requires additional time, money, and energy. In other words, there is simply too much on the line to not fight your first DUI charge in Georgia. 

Contact a Georgia DUI Attorney 

If you are facing your first DUI charge, you need an experienced Georgia DUI attorney on your side. At Carter Pilgrim, our talented DUI attorneys have a long track record of litigation and negotiation success. Whether we’re in the courtroom or at the negotiation table, we’ll do everything in our power to ensure that your DUI charge is dismissed or reduced. Therefore, if you’ve been charged with DUI in Georgia, please contact us for a consultation today.

Posted in DUI
Man in handcuffs, arrested for a DUI.

Common DUI Mistakes in Georgia

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Georgia, you must take it seriously. Potential consequences of a DUI conviction include jail time, monetary fines, and the loss of your license. In addition, a DUI conviction can prevent you from finding a job, can make it difficult for you to obtain suitable housing, and can even affect your ability to obtain certain types of loans. Unfortunately, most people who are facing their first DUI charge are unfamiliar with the legal process. This often leads to mistakes, some of which can have devastating effects on your case. Below are some of the most common DUI mistakes that people make in Georgia. 

Ignoring the DUI Charge

Besides failing to hire an attorney (discussed below), ignoring your DUI charge is the biggest mistake you can make. Whether this is your first offense or not, a DUI charge is not something to ignore. Often, people think that ignoring a problem will make it go away. While this may sometimes work with minor problems, it simply isn’t how the legal system works. Ignoring your DUI charge is a surefire way to end up with a DUI conviction on your record. 

Talking Too Much

A general rule of thumb when dealing with the police is this: keep quiet! Many first-time DUI offenders believe that they can talk their way out of their DUI charges. Whether it’s dealing with the police on the side of the road immediately after being pulled over or facing questioning at the police station, don’t volunteer any information other than personal identifying information, such as your name, address, and phone number. Nothing good comes out of voluntarily giving information to the police, and anything you say can be used against you in court. Keep quiet!

Admitting Guilt

Even if you think you’re guilty, you shouldn’t share this with the police. There are specific legal elements one must meet to be found guilty of DUI. Therefore, despite your belief that you’re guilty, you may actually be mistaken! In addition, the burden of proof lies with the authorities in DUI cases. In other words, the police must prove that you were guilty of DUI in order for you to be convicted. Again, if the authorities are unable to do so, you’ll beat the DUI charge. Admitting guilt is never a good idea!

Failing to Appear in Court

As your case progresses, you’ll be required to appear in court. This includes an appearance in court to plead innocent or guilty to your charge. In addition to making you look bad in front of the judge, missing court dates can actually lead to additional charges! Never miss a court date!

Failing to Hire a Georgia DUI Attorney 

Finally, attempting to fight a DUI charge without the assistance of an experienced Georgia DUI attorney is probably the worst mistake you can make. If you are facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you absolutely must have a Georgia DUI attorney on your side. At Carter Pilgrim Stroud, our talented DUI attorneys have a long track record of DUI defense success. We are well known for our courtroom success and our ability to obtain favorable plea bargains and dismissals. Therefore, if you’ve been charged with DUI in Georgia, please contact us for a consultation as soon as possible. 

Posted in DUI