Most any attorney will admit that a DUI case is more complicated than a murder case. It is for this reason that a skilled DUI attorney is crucial in obtaining a favorable result.
Every DUI arrest requires a police officer to correctly follow specific procedures before making an arrest. Any mistake in procedure or an unsupported conclusion will be used to challenge your arrest. Police make mistakes frequently, and identifying those mistakes or wrong opinions can be the difference between winning and losing your case. Make sure you have a DUI lawyer that knows how to challenge any errors, whether they are factual, technical, or legal. These challenges can result in having your case reduced or dismissed.
Georgia DUI laws are tough and enforcement of these laws is rigorous. A driver is considered under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. However, the state can and often does proceed with a DUI prosecution if your blood alcohol content is under the legal limit. It does so by claiming that you were less safe to drive despite being under the legal limit. It is under this theory that the state will proceed should the results of a state administered test be suppressed.
The standard is even lower for for those operating a commercial vehicle with a Commercial Driver’s Licenses (.04). It’s lower still for those under 21 years of age (.02).
If your automobile is stopped, and if the police officer smells alcohol, the officer will ask you to take a battery of highly subjective field sobriety tests in order to provide the state with evidence to be used against you. These can include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), the Walk and Turn test, the One Leg Stand Test, and the hand held breath test on a device called an Alcosensor (a PBT – portable breathalyzer test, not a Breathalyzer).
If the officer decides that you failed the tests or if the police officer otherwise suspects impairment, you will be arrested. At the time you’re placed under arrest for DUI, the officer is supposed to read the Georgia Implied Consent Notice to you. The officer will designate which of the three tests (blood, breath, or urine) he or she wants you to take (officers can ask for all 3 or any combination). Once again, the state is asking you to provide them with additional evidence to be used against you.
If you take the test and have an unlawful blood alcohol level or if you refuse to take the test, you have just ten business days to request an administrative license suspension hearing. If you don’t request the hearing within the ten business days, your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive in Georgia will be suspended for 1 to 5 years by operation of law, depending upon your record. And that is all before you go to court.
If you are convicted of DUI:
- you can go to jail for up to a year
- you will have to do at least 40 hours of community service
- you will have to pay a substantial fine
- you might lose your driver’s license for 1 to 5 years
- you will have to attend DUI school (also called alcohol risk reduction school)
- you will have to pay a reinstatement fee to get your license back
- you will have higher insurance premiums
- you might have to have an ignition interlock device placed on your car
- you might have to turn in the license plates on all the vehicles you own
- you might have your picture published in the newspaper
- you might have to attend alcohol counseling