Drunk Driving Defense Throughout Atlanta, Forsyth & Gwinnett County
We all know that DUI is a serious offense that results in a large number of fatalities on our national roadways. In Georgia, penalties for those convicted of the offense are likely to pay severely for their misconduct, particularly if they have caused an accident and injured or killed another person. This is why it is extremely important to have a skilled, experienced DUI defense attorney by your side if you are charged with DUI. With Carter Pilgrim beside you, you can be sure that you will be protected vigorously from the charges against you, even if you have come out on the wrong side of sobriety field tests and even if your blood alcohol content has registered over the legal limit.
Many Cases Involving Charges of DUI Have Some Element of Doubt
Our law attorneys have a comprehensive knowledge of DUI laws and are fully cognizant of the fact that a seemingly open and shut case can actually be laden with inconsistencies and misinterpretations. Areas that a keen lawyer will explore and question include:
- Evidence of the defendant’s intoxication and how it was obtained
- Possibility of racial, ethnic, religious, or gender profiling by arresting officers
- External factors that may have played a role in the arrest, such as the behavior of other drivers or pedestrians, the weather, road obstacles, etc.
- Accuracy of any equipment used to measure the defendant’s level of intoxication
- The defendant’s past behavior
- The officer’s neglect or inability in performing field sobriety according to recognized standards
How To Behave if You’re Stopped for DUI in Georgia
In most cases, the less information you give to law enforcement, the better. As much as possible, restrict your comments to giving only your name and address (information that is legally required) until you speak to your attorney. Don’t volunteer where you’ve been, how much you’ve had to drink, or which prescription medications you take. Remember — you have “the right to remain silent.”
Also, it is important to know that, with Georgia’s 30-day rule, you will have your license suspended unless your attorney files for an appeal hearing within 30 days. This is why it’s so important to contact a capable attorney as quickly as possible. In addition to speaking as little as possible, you should be polite and cooperative and not resist in any way, since resisting arrest may result in further charges. It is also a good idea to be aware that if you call your lawyer on a cell phone while in a police car, the conversation is not considered private and is not protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Georgia has an “implied consent” rule which means that if you are arrested while driving you are considered to have agreed to give blood or urine samples if pulled over for suspected DUI. You can refuse to take the field sobriety test or to give blood or urine samples, but, if you do so, you will have to surrender your license on the spot and will be given a 45-day permit in exchange. If you don’t have a competent attorney file an appeal for you, or if you are found guilty of DUI, you will be without your driver’s license for at least one year.
The Police Have To Meet Standards, Too
If you are stopped for DUI, you should pay close attention to what the police officer says and does because if the officer says or does things that are not according to proper protocol, it will help your lawyer create a stronger defense for you. When you are stopped, law enforcers are required to:
- Have a valid reason to pull you over
- Advise you of your implied consent rights concerning chemical testing
- Administer field sobriety tests according to standard procedures
- Not search your car without probable cause
- Read you your Miranda rights before questioning you
- Have a probable cause to arrest you for DUI
- Make certain that the breathalyzer is in good working order before using it on you
- Prove that your blood or urine was protected from any tampering or replacement
- Have been specifically trained to make DUI arrests
Other concerns your attorney may investigate include whether or not the officer has any prior disciplinary record and/or whether, if there has been an accident, you could be suffering from injury or stress rather than alcohol or drug impairment.
Alternative Reasons for Failing Field Sobriety Tests
Police officers are trained to examine subjects for, among other things: the odor of alcohol on the breath, bloodshot eyes, and the ability to balance. Good DUI defense attorneys can remind the court that there are many other causes for all of these so-called “signs” of intoxication. Bloodshot eyes, for example, may result from allergies, illness, environmental irritants (such as smoke), or even simple fatigue. Alcoholic breath can be strong if the subject has had only a single drink, as long as he or she drank it very recently; alcoholic breath can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or GERD. Similarly, a subject may have difficulty maintaining balance for any number of reasons: age, weight, fatigue, neurological disorder, or even, in some situations, weather conditions.
Breathalyzer, Blood and Urine Tests Are Not Infallible
The fact that scientific instruments are used in a test does not make such a test infallible. In fact, scientific machinery is often inaccurate or affected by unpredictable external factors, such as radio frequencies, human error, and humidity. Highly experienced attorneys, like those at Carter Pilgrim, are adept at raising doubts about the precision of the equipment used to test alcohol levels. They are also able to raise doubts regarding how carefully (or carelessly) blood or urine samples were handled, and whether it is possible that such samples have been mislabeled, mixed up, or have been contaminated.
Some Strange Exceptions
In all legal circumstances except those surrounding DUI cases, witnesses, even expert witnesses, are not permitted to testify on what is known as “the ultimate issue.” A psychiatrist on the witness stand, for example, while permitted to explain a defendant’s diagnosis, cannot rule that the patient is, or is not, sane in the eyes of the law. The odd exception to this is that a police officer in a DUI case is allowed to offer his or her evaluation of the defendant as drunk or sober.
Another odd exception is the ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2015 that people arrested for drunk driving might be too impaired to agree to chemical tests of their breath, blood or urine. This court decision has created a loophole — now the attorneys who defend drunk drivers in Georgia are able to contend that their clients were too drunk to give consent to be tested and that, therefore, some medical evidence being used against them be discounted. Both of these exceptions may be put to good use by a resourceful lawyer.
Contact an Atlanta DWI/DUI Charges Defense Attorney Today
Beating a DUI charge in Georgia, as elsewhere, necessitates having a sharp, capable attorney. This type of serious criminal case cannot be handled by a novice. It requires an attorney who knows the intricacies of the law and has the talent to use them to your advantage. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please call us or fill out a contact form on our website.