Call Us 770-923-4948

Category: Blog

Driving Habits That Could Lead to a DUI Arrest

Unless a police officer smells your breath as you drive by, he or she will have to rely on visual cues based on your driving behavior to determine whether you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most people know that fast, reckless driving can indicate DUI, but you may not know that some seemingly innocent driving habits can lead to a traffic stop and potentially a DUI arrest. If you’ve been drinking at all – even if you’re not over the legal limit of .08 – these driving behaviors can give police officers probable cause to stop and even arrest you.
should you take test after dui arrest

Improper Acceleration & Braking
We’ve all been in the car with a stop-and-go driver whose jerky braking nearly causes whiplash. It can be irritating, but it can also get you pulled over on suspicion of DUI. Drivers who have been drinking mimic the behavior of such a driver; braking too late or too soon, accelerating sharply for no apparent reason, and failing to maintain a reasonably constant rate of speed are all signs of DUI.

Carelessness
It happens to everyone: the driver in front of you suddenly begins slowing down, almost stopping, and then abruptly makes a turn. “Nice blinker,” you mutter. Or maybe you’re on the interstate, where most drivers are doing north of 70 mph, and see someone change lanes without signaling. It’s obviously dangerous, but failing to signal can also signal to cops that you may be under the influence. The same is true for forgetting to turn on headlights when it’s dark, raining, or foggy or taking longer than normal to respond to traffic signals, such as a light change from red to green.

Poor Judgment
Did you know that tailgating can be an indicator of impaired driving? It’s tempting to “ride” someone who’s driving more slowly than you’d like, but following too closely can get you pulled over on suspicion of DUI. Other examples of poor judgment include rapid and frequent lane changes, especially in dangerously narrow spaces, and turning too sharply, broadly, quickly, or slowly.

Failing to Maintain Lane Position
It’s critical to stay in your lane while driving for both your safety and the safety of other drivers. Failure to do so could result in a traffic stop and subsequent DUI charge. Weaving, straddling a line (a common practice among sober drivers in rural areas with very little traffic and road lighting), swerving, and drifting on a curve are just a few examples.
If you find yourself arrested and charged with DUI – no matter whether or how much you’ve been drinking – get in touch with an attorney with extensive experience in handling Georgia DUI cases. As an attorney with over 33 years of experience handling both DUI and traffic-law cases, I urge you to contact me, Mickey Roberts, and to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for all the latest in DUI news and laws.

Vehicular Homicide Continued: Misdemeanor, Feticide, & Serious Injury Crashes

Last month, I filled you in on the ins and outs of felony vehicular homicide. To recap, determining felony vehicular homicide depends largely on the traffic violations committed, including reckless driving, DUI, fleeing/eluding, and leaving the scene of the accident. Generally, if found guilty of felony vehicular homicide in Georgia, you can expect a punishment of 3 to 15 years in prison, though habitual violators can face up to 20 years.

As a seasoned traffic and DUI lawyer in Georgia, I have experience in defending cases involving other facets of vehicular homicide outside of felony, including misdemeanor, feticide, and serious injury crashes. All of these classifications have varying implications, but all involve a driver’s actions as the proximate cause of death or cause of serious injury. Vehicular homicide in the 2nd Degree is known as a misdemeanor. In Georgia, any person who causes the death of another person as a result of traffic violations other than the felony predicate offenses commits this offense.

For example, if you were to run a red light, crash into another car, and cause the death of another person, it would be classified as vehicular homicide in the 2nd Degree.  To be found guilty of misdemeanor vehicular homicide, the judge or jury is required to find that the person committed a traffic offense other than the felony vehicular homicide predicate offenses. Subsequently, it must be found that the person’s unlawful acts were the proximate cause of death. For this offense, you can be sentenced to a maximum of 12 months.

Another aspect of vehicular homicide is feticide by vehicle. The elements and punishment for felony feticide by vehicle are the same as felony vehicular homicide, with the same rule applying to misdemeanor vehicular homicide. Feticide by vehicle is defined as causing the death of an unborn child, at any stage of development that is carried in the womb, within a car crash.

Lastly, any person who brings about serious injury to another person as a result of reckless driving or DUI commits the offense of serious injury by vehicle. “Serious injury” is defined as “depriving a person of a member of his body, by rendering a member of his body useless, by seriously disfiguring his body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage, which renders the body or any member thereof useless.” In order to be found guilty of serious injury by vehicle, the judge or jury must find that the person committed either reckless driving or DUI. Subsequently, they must find that the person’s unlawful acts were the proximate cause of serious injury. This offense is a felony that comes with a sentence from one to 15 years in prison. If convicted of serious injury by vehicle, the person will face 3 years of driver’s license suspension, no work permit available.

Navigating the various facets of vehicular homicide and serious injury crashes can be daunting and often times confusing. If you find yourself in any of the situations described, I urge you to contact a professional to aid in your case. To contact a reputable lawyer in Georgia, contact me, Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for traffic law updates and news.

Why You Should Never Consent to a Search of Your Car

The 4th Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches of our bodies, homes and cars, among other things. There seems to be an epidemic of cases where police officers stop someone for a minor traffic violation, then pressures the driver into consenting to a search of their car.  Of course we only know of cases where drugs have been found; those are the cases we see in the appellate courts. Who knows how many times cops have searched vehicles and found nothing?

what to do if pulled over by police in Georgia

I am sure you have seen cars stopped by police while traveling on our expressways.  Because of my law practice, I pay particular attention when I see these instances; even though I may be traveling by at a fast speed, when I pass a stopped car and I see officers searching the car, I pay close attention. Many times, quite frankly, the drivers are either black or Hispanic.

No doubt these police officers are “profiling” drivers of color; they pull over the drivers on minor traffic offenses (or make one up), with the express intention of searching the car for drugs. This is the routine: cop pulls you over, say for speeding, takes your license, and after having checked on your license status comes back and asks if he/she can search the car for drugs. If you say “no,” the officer threatens you. The officer may ask you why you are exercising your rights, and ultimately will threaten to “bring the drug dog” if you will not give consent to a search.  Fortunately, the Georgia Appellate courts have sided with our Forefathers in upholding the 4th Amendment in these cases. In the past 12 months alone, the Georgia Appeals Courts have reversed 4 or 5 trial courts who have ruled these searches as legal. 

You might say, “Well I don’t carry illegal drugs in my car, so who cares?”  As a middle aged white male who doesn’t fit the profile of a drug courier, I really don’t have much expectation that a cop will ask if he can search my car.  But if you have children, and especially if you are black or Latino, the truth is that there is a high likelihood that at some point in time they will be stopped and will be asked to consent to a search.  

I recently won a motion to throw out such a search, where my 20 year old client was stopped for a brake light being out; she had not been drinking, nor was there any evidence which would have indicated she had any drugs in her car.  After 28 minutes of threats by the officer, who eventually called a drug dog, my client “consented” to a search.  A half pill of methadone was found in the car; this was a car that had been used by several members of her family, so in reality she did not know what was in her car.  Because the stop was for a brake light and because there was no probable cause to prolong the stop and ask for a search, the case was thrown out against my client.

In addition to DUI defense, I handle any case involving the stop of vehicles by police, including felony drug cases.  Hiring a qualified, knowledgeable DUI attorney can be very beneficial to winning your case.  If you are arrested for DUI or other serious traffic violations, contact me, Mickey Roberts, today. Also be sure to follow MrGaDUI on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more traffic law updates and news.

4 Rules to Live By if You Are Stopped by Police: A New Spin

You probably know by now that as an experienced DUI lawyer, I am an advocate for simple tips that can save you a lot of trouble if you are ever faced with an under-the-influence dilemma. Due to changing conditions in the law world, I’ve revamped my 4 Simple Rules to reflect the best behaviors you can practice in a traffic stop. Though nothing is ever simple when it comes to traffic stops, these rules are proven to help.

what to do if pulled over by police in Georgia
  1. Never admit to drinking or anything else. This rule has remained constant throughout the years. This does not mean deny drinking, it means do not admit or deny drinking or anything else. If you admit drinking, then he or she should ask you what you were drinking, how much, and when. You help an officer tremendously in proving you guilty of DUI when you admit to having multiple drinks, regardless of any other evidence that would tend to prove you were not impaired. 
  2. Do not submit to any roadside field sobriety evaluations.  Roadside tests are voluntary, but an officer doesn’t have to tell you as much. While he/she may show you how to do the evaluations, they never tell you exactly how they are “scoring.” If there is no video evidence, a cop can basically say anything in his report about how you performed on the evaluation. In fact, most DUI Task Force officers admit that they would not take the field sobriety tests if asked. Just say no.
  3. Invoke your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches. Though this only works in certain situations, you do have the right to refuse an unreasonable search.  There are current cases on appeal which involve the issue that a warrantless search of a person’s blood, breath, urine, so forth, may violate the 4th Amendment, and that the police can easily obtain a search warrant now, in a DUI case, for blood. Also, one should NEVER consent to a warrantless search of one’s car.
  4. If you take the State chemical test, always ask for an independent test of your “other bodily substance,” such as hair or saliva.  If you refuse to take the state chemical test, not only are you subject to losing your license for a full year with no permit, you may also have your blood drawn with the results being used against you. Once you do take the designated State tests, you are entitled to an independent test of your own choosing of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances (such as hair or saliva). This way, the burden shifts to the officer to reasonably accommodate your request or the State test cannot be used against you.

Regardless of the situation at hand, do your best to remain focused on not providing evidence that would tend to prove your guilt of DUI.  For more information, contact me, Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for Georgia law updates and news.

New Advice on Whether to “Take the Test” After DUI Arrest

For many years, I have advised people to “refuse” to take a State blood, breath or urine test after arrest if they thought they might register above the legal limit of .08.  Now, due to changing conditions, we must rethink that position.

Georgia law says that if you are arrested for DUI, you are “required” to take a test of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance. However, you do have the right to “refuse” to take such test(s). If you take the test(s), you have a right to an independent test of blood, breath, urine, or “other bodily substance.”

should you take test after dui arrest

The question of whether to take a state test after arrest has always been a troublesome one. On one hand, Georgia law says that when you “refuse” to take a test, your license could be suspended for a full year. That is known as an administrative license suspension (ALS) and must be initiated by the arresting officer.   So, if you could get past the license hearing, you had done yourself a favor by not providing the State with your blood alcohol level.

The problem is, we are seeing more and more cops showing up for the ALS hearing and insisting that our clients sign an agreement whereby the client agrees to plead guilty to the DUI, and the cop then agrees to withdraw any one year suspension.  These agreements, under a recent Georgia case, can now be admitted into evidence against you, if you decide to go back on the agreement and fight the DUI.

Georgia law says that if you refuse testing, then “NO TEST SHALL BE GIVEN.” However, the legislature changed the license law a few years ago to add that nothing in the law would prevent a police officer from “obtaining evidence by other means”.  Recently, some police agencies have started obtaining search warrants to forcibly draw a person’s blood if that person has refused to agree to a State breath or blood test. Not only that, but these officers are also seeking a one year license suspension even after obtaining the suspect’s blood!

While there are currently legal actions arguing that a person or driver’s rights are violated by these forced blood draws, we must take another look at our options when deciding whether to take the test or not.

If you refuse to take the test, not only are you subject to losing your license for a full year with no permit, you may also have your blood drawn, with the results able to be used against you.

Once you do take the designated State tests, you are entitled to an independent test of your own choosing of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances . Once you request an independent test of your choosing, the officer must “reasonably accommodate your request, or otherwise the State test cannot be used against you.  As I am not aware as to whether the State is capable of testing “other bodily substances” for blood alcohol level, you might consider requesting an independent test of a bodily substance other than blood, breath or urine.

I would suggest you specifically request a test of either hair or saliva. Then, the burden shifts to the officer to reasonably accommodate your request. For more information, contact me, Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for Georgia law updates and news.


Archives

Newsletter

Location

Disclaimer

The above information is intended to help educate members of the Georgia motoring public as to their rights under the law and to assist presumptively innocent citizens in properly asserting those rights. Information within this site should not be misconstrued as legal advice.
Blog