Car keys and glasses of scotch, representing DUIs

Common Defenses to DUI Charges in Georgia

If you are facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you have every right to be concerned. After all, a DUI conviction can have a serious impact on your life. Luckily, as we discuss below, there are multiple ways to fight DUI charges in Georgia. After reviewing these common defenses to DUI charges, please contact a Georgia DUI attorney to begin planning your defense. 

The most common defenses to DUI charges

The traffic stop was unlawful

In order to conduct a traffic stop, the police must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. A stop without reasonable suspicion is unlawful. Therefore, if you were stopped without good reason prior to your DUI arrest, your Georgia DUI attorney may be able to challenge the stop itself. If the stop was unlawful, the court must drop your charges, even if you were later found to have been intoxicated. 

The defendant has a medical condition

Certain medical conditions can lead to unlawful DUI arrests. For example, some medical conditions cause people to fail field sobriety tests and appear intoxicated. Other conditions can result in failed chemical tests. Therefore, if your medical condition caused your DUI arrest, your Georgia DUI attorney can use this in your defense. 

The field sobriety test results are unreliable

Field sobriety tests are intended to detect intoxication, and they require drivers to do things that require coordination, balance, and focus. However, these tests are often unreliable. There are many reasons besides intoxication that can lead to a failed field sobriety test, including:

  • A driver’s age,
  • A driver’s weight,
  • Bad weather,
  • Poor lighting, and
  • Uneven pavement or ground.

The breathalyzer test results are inaccurate

Similar to field sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests aren’t always accurate, and attorneys have plenty of ways to challenge breathalyzer results in court. Breathalyzers are designed to measure the concentration of alcohol from the vapor in a driver’s lungs, but in order to do so accurately, no alcohol can be present in the person’s mouth at the time of the test. Otherwise, the test result will reflect a combination of mouth and lung alcohol, which can lead to an artificially high blood alcohol content reading. In order to avoid this result, officers are supposed to wait approximately 20 minutes before administering a breathalyzer test to a driver. If the officer fails to do so, the driver’s Georgia DUI attorney has strong grounds with which to challenge the test result. 

Facing a DUI Charge? Call Us Today! 

If you are facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you need to begin planning your defense as soon as possible. However, in order to give yourself the best chance at having your charge dropped or reduced, you need the assistance of an experienced Georgia DUI attorney. At Carter Pilgrim Stroud, we have a long and impressive track record of DUI defense success. Therefore, if you need DUI assistance of any kind in Georgia, please contact us as soon as possible for a consultation. 

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Key in an ignition interlock device.

Am I Eligible for an Ignition Interlock Device Permit in Georgia?

If you were recently arrested for DUI in Georgia and you refused a breath, blood, or urine test, then you need to know your options regarding the state’s Ignition Interlock Device (“IID”) program. An IID is a device that the state installs in the vehicles of certain people convicted of DUI. This device monitors a driver’s blood alcohol content while the vehicle is on. The installation of an IID is an alternative to the twelve-month license suspension that otherwise accompanies a DUI conviction in Georgia. Below is some additional information on Georgia’s IID program. 

IID Program Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for a 12-month IID permit following a DUI arrest in Georgia, an individual must: 

  • Hold a Georgia license,
  • Be 21 years of age or older,
  • Have no other license revocations or suspensions, and
  • Have no DUI convictions in the previous five years.

Drivers who meet any of the following criteria are not eligible for a 12-month IID permit in Georgia:

  • Drivers with out-of-state licenses,
  • Drivers with active license revocations or suspensions, 
  • Drivers with a DUI conviction in the previous five years, 
  • Drivers with an ALS suspension in the previous five years,
  • Drivers whose DUI case involved an accident with serious injury or death,
  • Drivers who haven’t applied for an IID permit within 30 days of receiving a notice of suspension, and
  • CDL drivers.

IID Program Steps 

If you’ve recently been arrested for DUI in Georgia, below is a broad overview of the steps required to participate in Georgia’s IID program: 

  1. Have an IID device installed in your vehicle – Installation of the IID device is required prior to applying for an IID permit.
  2. Apply for an IID permit within 30 days of your DUI arrest – You must apply in person at a Georgia Department of Driver Services office within 30 days of your DUI arrest.

Before making the decision to install an IID device in your vehicle, it is important to consult with a Georgia DUI attorney. If you fail to consult with an attorney to help determine your eligibility for the IID program, you could end up wasting time and money installing a device that you’re unable to use. 

Arrested for DUI? Call Us Today! 

If you were recently arrested for DUI in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia DUI attorney on your side. Georgia takes DUI charges seriously, so it’s imperative that you have a competent, aggressive legal team behind you to fight your charges. At Carter Pilgrim, we have a long and impressive track record of DUI defense success. In addition, we’re available to advise you on issues such as Georgia’s IID program. So, if you need DUI assistance of any kind in Georgia, please contact us as soon as possible for a consultation. 

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Cost of a DUI Conviction in Georgia

Most people are aware of the consequences of a DUI conviction. A criminal record, difficulty finding employment and housing, and losing your license are just a few of the consequences you may face if you’re convicted of DUI. However, what many people don’t know is that there are financial costs associated with a DUI conviction. Below is an overview of the financial costs of a DUI conviction in Georgia. If you are facing a DUI charge in Georgia, please contact a Georgia DUI attorney for assistance.

Fines and Court Costs

A DUI conviction in Georgia can be expensive. Some of the costs associated with a Georgia DUI conviction include:

  • A fine of up to $1,000,
  • Over $350 to attend a 20-hour Risk Reduction Program,
  • Over $250 to participate in an Alcohol and Drug Evaluation, and
  • Over $200 for the reinstatement of one’s driver license.

Restitution

Fines and court costs aren’t the only financial consequences of a DUI conviction in Georgia. If the defendant damaged property or injured a person while driving under the influence, he or she will likely have to pay restitution. In addition, since losing one’s license is a consequence of a DUI conviction, there are usually costs associated with using public transportation to travel to and from court-ordered activities.

Insurance Premium

Finally, a DUI conviction will cause the defendant’s insurance premium to go up—often considerably. In fact, a defendant can expect to see his or her insurance premium quadruple in cost following a DUI conviction. Even worse, an insurance company may refuse to continue to cover an individual who’s been convicted of DUI. In addition, a person convicted of DUI may be required to file an SR-22 form, which also increases insurance premiums and limits the filer’s choice of insurers.

The Final Takeaway

In summary, a first-time DUI can cost a defendant over $20,000 when fines, court fees, and attorney fees are considered. This is far more money than most people can afford to spend, and it doesn’t even cover the costs of lawsuits associated with the actions that resulted in the DUI charge. Therefore, if you’ve been charged with DUI in Georgia, it’s imperative that you do everything you can to fight the charge. And the best way to avoid a DUI conviction in Georgia is to hire an experienced DUI attorney.

Are You Facing a DUI Charge? Call Us Today!

If you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you need the assistance of a Georgia DUI attorney. The state of Georgia takes DUI charges seriously, so it’s imperative that you have a serious legal team behind you to fight your charges. At Carter Pilgrim Stroud, we have a long and impressive track record of DUI defense success. While we are well known for our courtroom success, we also frequently obtain favorable plea bargains and dismissals with our strong negotiation tactics. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Georgia, please contact us as soon as possible for a consultation.

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What Is a DUI Less Safe Charge?

Everyone knows that drinking and driving can get you into trouble. However, most people are unaware that you can actually be charged with DUI even though your blood alcohol content (“BAC”) is below the legal limit of 0.08%. In Georgia, this type of DUI charge is called a “DUI less safe.” Below is some additional information on the crime of DUI less safe in Georgia. For additional information, please contact our Georgia DUI attorney.

Receiving a DUI Less Safe Charge in Georgia

In Georgia, a driver can receive a DUI less safe charge if he or she is under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for him or her to drive. There is no BAC level that is too low to preclude a driver from receiving a DUI less safe charge. A DUI less safe charge often results when a police officer observes evidence of driver impairment following a traffic stop. Evidence of impairment may include things such as:

  • The driver’s admission of drinking
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Nervous demeanor
  • The odor of alcohol

As noted above, a driver can receive a DUI less safe charge even if his or her BAC is below the legal limit. However, another common DUI less safe charge scenario occurs when a driver refuses to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test. In this type of situation, the only evidence of impairment is often the arresting officer’s observations.

The Consequences of a DUI Less Safe Charge

A DUI less safe conviction can result in significant fines, the loss of driving privileges, and jail time. Other consequences can include increased insurance rates, a damaged reputation, and difficulty finding work following the conviction.

DUI Less Safe Timeline

If you’re facing a DUI less safe charge in Georgia, time is of the essence. If you fail to take action within a certain period of time following your arrest, you can lose your license and ability to drive. Therefore, if you have been arrested for DUI less safe in Georgia, it is imperative that you contact a Georgia DUI attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your legal rights are protected.

Charged with DUI Less Safe? Hire an Attorney!

If you’re facing a DUI less safe charge in Georgia, you need a Georgia DUI attorney on your side. The state of Georgia takes DUI charges seriously, so it’s imperative that you have a serious legal team behind you to fight your charges. At Carter Pilgrim, we specialize in DUI law and have a long and impressive track record of DUI defense success. While we are well known for our courtroom success, we also frequently obtain favorable plea bargains and dismissals with our strong negotiation tactics. If you’ve been arrested for DUI less safe in Georgia, please contact us as soon as possible for a consultation.

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How to Approach Your First Court Date Following a DUI Arrest

If you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia, you’re probably experiencing an avalanche of feelings. Fear, nervousness, and anger are but a few of the emotions typically experienced by defendants in DUI cases. A big part of the reason for this is lack of knowledge about the DUI process and how to approach it. Without a good understanding of the DUI process, it can be difficult to know what to expect, and this can be a great source of anxiety. In order to help you alleviate some of this anxiety, we’ve compiled an overview of how to approach the first step in the DUI process, your first court appearance. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact our Georgia DUI attorneys.

If you don’t already have one, let the judge know you want an attorney

While we suggest that you hire an attorney as soon as you can following a DUI arrest, if you don’t have one at the time of your first court appearance, let the judge know that you want one. Specifically, you should inform the judge that you need time to go out and hire a lawyer. Usually, the judge will be flexible at your first appearance and allow you time to find an attorney.

Don’t waive your right to a jury trial

Next, be sure not to waive your right to a jury trial. Many DUI suspects are intimidated by the prospect of a jury trial, so they sign away this right at their first appearance. Don’t make this mistake. Before you sign away any of your rights, you need to consult with a DUI attorney.

Be patient

While in court, be patient. The process can be long and slow, so be prepared for this. Also, no matter what the prosecutor says about you in court, keep your cool. One of the worst things you can do is draw attention to yourself in court by becoming irate. Stay professional and courteous at all times.

Dress nicely

While you don’t necessarily have to wear a suit to court, you should at least make an attempt to look presentable. By showing up to court looking sloppy, you give the judge and prosecutor the impression that you aren’t taking your charges seriously.

Hire a DUI attorney

By hiring a Georgia DUI attorney following your DUI arrest, you can rest assured that you have someone on your side who will not only prepare you for your first court appearance but will walk you through the entire criminal justice process while fiercely advocating for your innocence. At Carter Pilgrim, we specialize in DUI law and have an impressive track record of DUI defense success. While we are well known for our courtroom success, we also have a track record of obtaining favorable plea bargains and dismissals with our strong negotiation tactics. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Georgia, please contact us as soon as possible for a consultation.

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An Overview of Field Sobriety Tests in Georgia

Police officers in Georgia use field sobriety tests to determine the intoxication levels of drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These tests are administered roadside, and most drivers feel compelled to complete them when requested by an officer. In the article below, we discuss the types of field sobriety tests administered by police officers in Georgia and what happens when drivers refuse such tests. If you have additional questions about field sobriety tests in Georgia, please feel free to contact our experienced Georgia DUI attorneys.

Types of Georgia Field Sobriety Tests

  • One-Leg-Stand – This test requires a DUI suspect to stand on one leg. The failure to do so successfully can result in a DUI charge. However, this test fails to account for people who have poor balance.
  • Walk-And-Turn – This test requires the suspect to take 10 steps forward and 10 steps back. During the test, the administering officer checks to see if the driver is following directions and able to walk without tripping or swaying. However, like the one-leg-stand test, the walk-and-turn test fails to consider that some people have conditions that cause imbalance.
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – The HGN test requires the suspect to follow an object with his or her eyes while the officer observes for certain intoxication indicators. Legal prescription drug use and other medical conditions, however, can mimic intoxication, and this often results in innocent people being charged with DUI.
  • Romberg Test – This test requires the suspect to stand up, look to the sky, and extend his or her arms out to the side. The suspect must then estimate the passage of 30 seconds. During the test, the police officer observes the suspect for the inability to estimate the passage of time, eyelid tremors, and difficulty balancing.
  • Additional tests – Additional tests include counting backwards, reciting the alphabet, and performing the finger-to-nose test. In order to perform the finger-to-nose test, the suspect extends each arm and touches the tip of his or her nose. Missing the tip of the nose or failing to count or recite the alphabet correctly may result in further testing or DUI charges.

Field Sobriety Test Refusal in Georgia

Field sobriety tests in Georgia are completely voluntary and there is no penalty for not taking them. However, people often take them anyway, and they sometimes pay the price for doing so. Generally speaking, these tests are designed to make suspects fail, and our Georgia DUI attorney understands their flaws and how to dispute their accuracy in court.

Are you facing a DUI charge? Hire a DUI attorney!

If you are the victim of a field sobriety test in Georgia, you need an attorney on your side. By hiring the experienced attorneys of Carter Pilgrim to represent you in your DUI case, you can rest assured that your future is in good hands. We specialize in DUI law and have an impressive track record of DUI defense success. While we are well known for our courtroom success, we also have a track record of obtaining favorable plea bargains and dismissals with our strong negotiation tactics. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Georgia, please contact us as soon as possible for a consultation.

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Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Georgia?

Even if you’ve only have had a glass of wine with dinner, a DUI checkpoint is rarely a welcome sight. In Georgia, these checkpoints are perfectly legal, and police use them to identify and arrest drivers who have had too much to drink. However, the police must abide by specific guidelines when stopping drivers at these checkpoints. Any misstep by the police at a DUI checkpoint can result in the dismissal of charges—even for those drivers with blood alcohol levels that are over the legal limit. Below is an overview of the guidelines that police must follow when conducting DUI checkpoints in Georgia.

DUI checkpoint guidelines

Police in Georgia must follow these guidelines when conducting traffic stops at DUI checkpoints:

  • The checkpoint must be supported by the judicial system.
  • The checkpoint must be a part of an ongoing plan to decrease inebriated driving.
  • There must be predetermined, uniformly applied guidelines for operating the checkpoint.
  • The location of the checkpoint may not be random.
  • There must be a warning leading up to the checkpoint.
  • There must be a visible police presence at the checkpoint.
  • If chemical tests will be administered at the checkpoint, transportation of samples to a chemical testing site must be quick and efficient.
  • Any changes to the checkpoint must be documented in advance of the changes.
  • The method of determining driver intoxication must be standardized prior to the establishment of the checkpoint.
  • The police must provide warnings to the public about the checkpoint prior to its establishment so drivers may choose an alternate route if desired.
  • The police should request feedback from the drivers who are stopped at the checkpoint to determine whether the checkpoint is effective.

Were you arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Georgia?

If you are facing a DUI charge based on an arrest at a DUI checkpoint in Georgia, it is quite possible that the police who arrested you failed to adhere to the above guidelines. However, in order to demonstrate to the court that the police violated your rights during your arrest, you need an experienced Georgia DUI attorney on your side.

Contact our Atlanta, Gwinnett County & Suwanee DUI Attorneys

A DUI conviction can affect your ability to drive, find employment, obtain certain loans, and even attend school. In other words, a DUI charge is not something you should take lightly. Therefore, if you’ve been charged with a DUI in Georgia, you need to hire an experienced Georgia DUI attorney immediately. At Carter Pilgrim, located in Suwanee, we specialize in DUI law and have a long and impressive track record of DUI defense success. We are well known for our courtroom success and our ability to obtain favorable plea bargains and dismissals. If you’re facing a DUI charge in Georgia—don’t delay. Contact us as soon as possible for a consultation.

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Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Georgia?

No one wants to be pulled over by the police. Whether it’s for speeding or suspicion of driving under the influence (“DUI”), being stopped by the police can be an intimidating experience. But what happens if the police officer who pulls you over asks you to take a breathalyzer test? Do you have to do it? People often feel compelled to do whatever a police officer asks them to do, fearing that refusal may land them behind bars.

In order to clear up the confusion about the right to refuse a breathalyzer test in Georgia, we’ve compiled some helpful information below. And if you are currently facing DUI charges in Georgia, we suggest that you immediately contact one of our Georgia DUI attorneys for assistance.

You may refuse a breathalyzer test in Georgia

First, you may refuse a breathalyzer test in Georgia. In fact, the only way the police in Georgia can force you to take a breathalyzer test is with a valid warrant.

Can my refusal to take a breathalyzer test be held against me in court?

In many states, a person’s refusal to take a breathalyzer test can be introduced in court. Prosecutors in these states use this refusal to imply that a defendant’s blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. In Georgia, though, your refusal to take a breathalyzer test may not be held against you. However, there are other consequences of refusing to consent to a test.

Consequences of refusing to take a breathalyzer test in Georgia

Even though your refusal to take a breathalyzer test in Georgia may not be held against you in court, you still may face other consequences, the primary one being the suspension of your license for one year. This suspension period will be extended for a second refusal that occurs within five years of your initial suspension. And although the refusal to take a breathalyzer test may help prevent a DUI charge in some cases, the loss of one’s license is by no means inconsequential.

Luckily, though, if your license is suspended for a breathalyzer refusal, you have 30 days to appeal the suspension. However, regardless of whether you need to appeal a suspension or fight a DUI charge, one thing is for sure: you need an experienced DUI attorney on your side.

Contact our Atlanta, Gwinnett County & Suwanee DUI Attorneys

The consequences of a DUI conviction in Georgia are serious. Therefore, the first thing you should do after a DUI arrest in Georgia is to hire an experienced Georgia DUI attorney. At Carter Pilgrim, located in Suwanee, we specialize in DUI law and have an impressive track record of DUI defense success. While we are well known for our courtroom success, we also have a track record of obtaining favorable plea bargains and dismissals with our strong negotiation tactics. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Georgia, please contact us as soon as possible for a consultation.

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Sentencing for DUI Convictions

What factors will determine your sentence following a DUI conviction?

DUI convictions can result in a wide array of penalties, including suspension of your driver’s license, fines, jail time, and community service. Sentences following a DUI conviction can vary, with some defendants receiving just a night in jail, while other first time offenders could be sentenced to one year imprisonment. If you are facing a DUI conviction, you may be wondering what your sentence might be if convicted and how your sentence will be determined. Our Atlanta DUI lawyers at Carter/Pilgrim explore the potential sentences for first time or repeat DUI convictions and factors that might influence your sentence below.

Potential Criminal Penalties for a DUI in Georgia

A first time offender could be sentenced to up to one year in prison, along with between $300 and $1,000 in fines, an alcohol or drug course, and community service. Second-time offenders may also be sentenced to up to one year in jail, along with $600 to $1,000 in fines, 240 hours of community service, and a substance abuse treatment program. Third offenses carry the addition of a minimum of 15 days imprisonment, while a fourth time or subsequent offense could be punished by a minimum of one year in prison and a maximum of five years.

As you can see, there exists quite a wide range of sentencing for each level of conviction.  Jail time, the most daunting of punishments, can be non-existent or last for a year. Those facing a DUI will want to have a thorough understanding of what factors go into sentencing so that they can know what to expect.

Factors Influencing Your DUI Sentence

Sentencing will typically take place right after your DUI conviction. The sentencing judge will often consider evidence offered by the prosecutor and defense. Factors to be considered include the defendant’s DUI record and criminal history, whether the DUI involved a victim, any remorse expressed by the defendant, and the defendant’s personal or social circumstances. For instance, a first-time offender without any criminal history who expresses remorse over a victimless DUI may not be sentenced to jail time. On the other hand, a second time offender who injured another while driving drunk might be sentenced to jail time and heftier fines or mandatory substance abuse courses. Your DUI attorney will examine the factors surrounding your arrest to better advise you as to the potential penalties you will face.

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Appealing Your DUI Conviction

What are the grounds for a successful criminal appeal in Georgia?

In the state of Georgia, over 20,000 people will typically be convicted of a DUI each year, as reported by the Georgia Department of Driver Services. At times, a guilty verdict can be handed down to even defendants with the best lawyers or evidence in their favor. You cannot control the outcome of a criminal case, and justice is not always served. Recognizing that trial courts do not always get it right, our legal system offers the appellate process, whereby defendants can appeal their conviction and potentially achieve a reversal of the case.  Appealing your DUI conviction can be a lengthy process, but it could potentially remove the conviction from your permanent record and erase the sentence you are serving. Our Atlanta DUI lawyers discuss the appellate process and grounds for an appeal below.

Timeline for Filing an Appeal

Per Georgia law, you have 30 days from the date of the judgment to file an appeal. Failure to timely file an appeal could mean loss of your right to appeal the verdict. Appeals are quite technical in nature and must comply strictly with the law. You will need an experienced criminal law attorney to draft and file your appeal.

Grounds for Appeal

It is important to understand that an appeal is not the chance for another trial. The appellate court will review the proceedings of the trial court to determine if a legal error occurred. Legal errors could include the admittance of evidence that should have been excluded, improper jury instructions, ineffective assistance of counsel, or jury bias, among other grounds. Your attorney will carefully review the trial transcript to ascertain whether any legal errors were made which undermine the reliability of the verdict.

Upon reviewing your appeal, the appellate court has the power to either affirm the verdict, meaning it will be upheld, modify the verdict or send it back to the trial court, or vacate the lower court decision. A successful appeal could potentially mean a reversal of your DUI conviction.

The appellate process is complex and legally technical, but for those who believe an error was made during the trial, filing an appeal could give you a chance at justice. Contact a DUI attorney today for a review of your case and an individualized assessment of your rights on appeal.

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