DUI Defense & Alcohol Offenses
In Georgia, the law prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
The law provides for two methods of prosecuting DUI alcohol: “DUI - Less Safe” and “Per Se.”
“DUI - Less Safe” requires the prosecution to show that the person was 1) driving 2) under the influence and 3) to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive. The law allows for this method of proving DUI because, otherwise, all suspected DUI drivers would refuse to submit to a chemical test that showed the presence of alcohol/drugs in the body.
“DUI - Per Se” is a method of prosecuting DUI that does not require the prosecution to prove that alcohol impaired a person’a ability to drive, but merely requires the State to prove that a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was at .08 (eight hundredths of a gram) or higher at any time within 3 hours after driving or being actual physical control of a vehicle. All that matters is that a person’a BAC is at or above a .08.
The law also restricts driving under the influence of narcotics, prescription drugs, and/or over-the-counter medications, to the extent that makes that person less safe to drive (DUI - Drugs).
The State must prove that a person was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of any drug, glue, aerosol, toxic vapor or any combined influence of any 2 or more of these substances to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive. And even though someone might have a lawful prescription, the law in Georgia does not consider a prescription for medications as a defense if the person is incapable of driving safely as a result of taken those medications.
The penalty for DUI depends on the type of DUI and the number of prior convictions for DUI. Most DUI’s are punishable as misdemeanors (up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000) with the exception of those facing habitual violator status - 3rd or subsequent DUI conviciton within the last 5 years.
Consequences to Driver’s License as a result of a DUI arrest and conviction are devastating. Simply being arrested and charged for DUI can result in a 12 month suspension of your driving privileges without the ability to get a limited permit.
(Step 1) Have the evidence of consumption and/or impairment suppressed or excluded by finding where police violated a person’s constitutional rights in the way a person or his property was searched, or in how the blood or breath sample was seized; or (Step 2) Explore any other factual defense.
Evidence of alcohol or drug consumption can be thrown-out if the way it was discovered and seized violated your Fourth Amendment Constitutional right to be free form unlawful search and seizure. If the police arrest you for DUI without probable cause, the blood, breath, and/or urine sample obtained after the arrest is inadmissible in court.
Investigating and attacking any legal defenses is the mark of an experienced trial lawyer. This includes challenging the implied consent notice. The Implied Consent Statute means that if someone is driving on Georgia highways or roads, that have implicitly consented to proving that they are not driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs by taking a chemical test. The refusal to prove one’s sobriety, results in the administrative suspension of their driving priveleges. Specifically, challenging the sufficiency and timing of the notice.
No Evidence = Not Guilty
Even if there is no legal defense requiring the suppression of evidence in a DUI charge, we look for any possible factual defenses to challenge the criminal charges:
- Attacking the validity of the Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s)
- “Walk and Turn”
- “One Legged Stand”
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
- Attacking the reliability of the Alco-Sensor and Intoxylizer Machine
Minor In Possession Of Alcohol (MIP)
Students in high school or in college, can find themselves charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP). In Georgia, this offense is considered a misdemeanor and a conviction for MIP should be avoided at all costs. It can serve as a road block when applying for college, post-graduate school, jobs, internships, externships, etc.
Many jurisdictions offer a diversion program of some form for those young adults charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol. These programs usually require some sort of community service, participation fee, alcohol/drug evaluation, alcohol/drug screens in an effort to educate the participant.