Remember These Facts About Georgia DUI Law

When it comes to a DUI arrest, there are certain things that law enforcement does not want everyone to know. These are facts that can be the difference between getting a DUI removed from your record to a DUI conviction.

Among the most important facts to know about Georgia DUI Law are:

1. Refusing to Take a Blood or Breath Test is Not an Admission of Guilt. Georgia law only provides for a deduction of the presence of a prohibited substance, such as alcohol or drugs, in your system if you refuse to take the State-Administered Blood or Breath test in a DUI case.

2. Refusing to Take a Test Will Not Definitely Mean a One-Year License Suspension. If you refuse to take a breath or blood test, a license suspension is not automatic. You will need to send a letter with the $150 filing fee to the Georgia Department of Driver Services within 10 business days of your arrest to request a driver’s license hearing. The hearing will then be scheduled with the arresting officer at the Office of State Administrative Hearings. It is only after this hearing that a driver’s license can be suspended for refusing the State-Administered Test. Most suspensions are actually overturned when a person is represented by an attorney who can negotiate the suspension during the hearing.

3. You Can Beat a DUI Breath or Blood Test Result – It is Not Hopeless. Many questions can arise during the defense of State-administered test results{}, and attorneys regularly beat DUI cases with blood and/or breath tests as evidence. For example, was the traffic stop even legal? Many cases can be thrown because of illegal stops. Other questions regarding sufficient evidence, information provided by the officer and the breath test device itself can also lead to dismissal of DUI charges.

4. Field Sobriety Tests Are Not Reliable Indicators of Alcohol Impairment. The three most commonly used field sobriety evaluations are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test, or eye jerking test, the nine step walk and turn, and the 30 second one leg stand. These tests theoretically draw a parallel to specific clues with blood alcohol levels, but not “impairment,” as officers regularly testify to during trial. The conditions being tested can easily be overturned based on medical conditions or simply practice, and those who are completely sober can fail these tests without practice.

5. A First DUI Arrest Does Not Mean Significant Jail Time. Although the DUI Statute (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391) describes the punishment for a first DUI as a minimum of 10 days in jail, it also allows the judge to stay, suspend or probate all but 24 hours in jail.

6. The State-Administered Breath Test at the Jail or Police Station, the Intoxilyzer 5000, is Not Always Accurate. The alcohol breath test machine is inconsistent because it has to make assumptions. For example, it has to assume your body temperature is normal at the time of the test. Also, the Intoxilyzer 5000 has a margin for error. It can vary as much as .02 between samples because of variations in deep lung air, and it can mistake other solvents as blood alcohol on the breath. Radio frequency interference from cell phones can cause errors in breath alcohol readings. It can also mistake residual mouth alcohol from burping and belching as blood alcohol.

7. The Legal Limit of 0.08 BAC Does Not Necessarily Mean Intoxicated. Although many people believe the 0.08 BAC indicates drunkenness, many people can perform field tests at that level and not have any indications of being intoxicated, such as slurred speech, staggering or stumbling. Alcohol affects different people differently.

8. You Don’t Have to Pay a Court-Appointed Attorney Before You Go to Court. Although some jurisdictions will have you reimburse the county for a court appointed attorney, you will never have to pay for an attorney up front. If someone calls you and says they have been appointed by the court to represent you and they ask for money up front, call the State Bar of Georgia or tell the judge because it is a scam.

9. If Your Attorney Tells You to Plead Guilty at Arraignment, He Probably Has Not Done His Job. Make sure your attorney has checked all of the evidence available to him, such as police records and videotape, to ensure you get a fair trial.

10. Good Lawyers Can Get The Job Done. Before going to trial, ask the attorney how many jury trials he has tried, when was his last jury trial, what is his usual result, and any other questions you may have. Nowadays, you have many lawyers masquerading around as trial lawyers but who never try cases. A good, experienced trial attorney is one who has tried a case to a jury in the recent past and knows exactly what to look for in a DUI case and can fight to get results.

If you do find yourself charged with DUI, it does not mean your life and your career are over. The wisest thing to do is to seek an experienced DUI Defense lawyer who can work toward minimizing the legal consequences and help you work toward putting your life back on track.

The Dove Law Firm, LLC, is located in Ocilla and serves residents throughout South Georgia. From the beginning to the end, we deliver excellent legal services for residents of Ocilla, Fitzgerald, Tifton, Douglas, Moultrie, Hazlehurst, Abbeville, Nashville, Adel, Cordele, McRae, Sylvester and Ashburn.

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We are proud to serve the counties of Irwin, Ben Hill, Crisp, Wilcox, Jeff Davis, Coffee, Tift, Dooly, Atkinson, Colquitt, Berrien, and Dodge. We are appreciative of the opportunity to serve the cities of Ocilla, Fitzgerald, Abbeville, Eastman, Hazelhurst, Tifton, Douglas, Moultrie, Nashville, Enigma, and Cordele.

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