Best Defenses Against A Georgia DUI
Being convicted of driving under the influence can have devastating consequences. DUI is a permanent charge that stays on your criminal and driving records and impacts everything from your insurance rates to employment prospects. For this reason, the absolute best thing you can do when charged with a DUI is invest all of your effort into avoiding a conviction. This is best accomplished by hiring an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney. An attorney will work to try and have your DUI reduced to a non-criminal charge, allowing you to avoid many of the most impactful consequences. Even if you took a breathalyzer test that reflected that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above the legal limit of .08, it is still possible to challenge, reduce, or even overcome the charges.
Common Defenses to Georgia DIU
In order to successfully challenge a DUI charge, it’s important to build and present a strong defense. This often involves finding the weaknesses in each component of the prosecution’s case against you, starting with the validity of the traffic stop.
- Was the initial stop legal? Police are not legally allowed to pull drivers over on a hunch. Rather, police must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a driver is violating the law in order to justify a stop. If the driver was profiled, and was not exhibiting any signs of intoxication or potentially illegal behavior, it may be possible to challenge the validity of the stop and have the charges dismissed. Likewise, if the police pulled you over on suspicion of drunk driving based on a swerve that could be otherwise explained (i.e. a large pothole that caused your car to swerve) it may also be possible to challenge the validity of the stop.
- Were you driving in a high-crime area? There are many high-crime areas in Atlanta where police tend to stop people who fit “patterns of criminal activity.” However, without something more specific, such as articulable evidence of potential criminal activity (swerving in and out of traffic, driving very fast) this is not a sufficient basis for a stop.
- Were you stopped at a roadblock? If you were stopped at a checkpoint or roadblock in Georgia, there are constitutional requirements that the police must have complied with. For example, in order for a roadblock stop to be valid, all cars passing through must be stopped. Officers are not legally permitted to pick and choose which vehicles they stop. If this is the case, it points strongly to bias and is not a valid stop.
- Were you actually driving? The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in actual, physical control of the vehicle in order to charge you with DUI. If you were sitting in the vehicle without keys in the ignition, if someone else was driving, or if it cannot be clearly shown that you were in control of the vehicle, then it is a basis to successfully challenge the charge.
- Did the officers have probable cause to arrest you? Officers cannot arrest you on a hunch that you are intoxicated. They must be able to articulate why they determined you to be intoxicated and an unsafe driver.
- Were the field sobriety tests administered correctly? Probably not. They almost ever are. And even when they are, they are rarely reliable and can be challenged easily by experts. Additionally, pictures of the scene of the field sobriety tests (i.e. reflecting uneven pavement in the dark) can help juries understand other possible reasons a driver would have trouble “passing” the standing-on-one-foot test.
- Were the lab tests even accurate? Lab tests are not nearly as accurate as we assume. They have a relatively large margin for error and are susceptible to a wide range of possible testing issues.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you have been charged with a DUI in Georgia, now is the time to act. Hawkins Spizman Trial Attorneys serve Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs, and can assist you throughout each step of your case. Reach out to our Georgia criminal attorneys today for help.