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Category: Case of the Month

What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance and Why Do you Need It?

A recent local traffic law case brings to light the importance of understanding uninsured motorist insurance:

A man whose car was rear-ended in DeKalb County in 2009 recently lost his claim against his uninsured motorist carrier when the Supreme Court of Georgia determined he did not adequately prove he was eligible for coverage.

The high court unanimously reversed a narrowly divided Court of Appeals opinion on the question. The justices found that the burden of proof rested with the injured driver, rather than his uninsured motorist carrier, to show whether the at-fault driver in the wreck was technically uninsured.

What is uninsured motorist insurance and why do you need it?

Let’s say, for instance, that you are involved in an auto accident and you suffer a serious injury by vehicle. You receive a broken leg, and with surgery and recovery, your medical bills are in excess of $50, 000. On top of that, you have lost wages and of course the pain and suffering that comes with the injury.

The driver who caused the accident has the minimum liability coverage in Georgia: $25,000. Obviously, that would not cover your damages. That’s where uninsured motorist insurance comes into play.

If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy, and you can prove the driver at fault was either uninsured or underinsured, you can file for payment of the difference with your insurance company.

So, if your claim is for $100,000, and you have uninsured coverage of $100,000, you could apply the $25,000 from the other party’s insurance and claim the remaining $75,000 on your policy.

Uninsured motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive. Check your auto insurance policy today and make sure you have an amount you are comfortable with. Then, in the event of an accident, contact an experienced traffic attorney to help you takes the correct steps toward the best possible outcome.

Case of the Month: DUI with Drugs Involved Turns into a City Ordinance Violation

While marijuana laws are changing all over the United States, the facts remain unchanged in Georgia: have it in your possession or drive under the influence, and law enforcement will not be happy. For an example, let’s examine this edition of my Case of the Month series featuring underage DUI involving marijuana.

dui with drugs

An underage client of mine was stopped by a police officer for making an illegal left turn.  When the officer approached the car, he smelled the telltale odor of marijuana drifting from inside. My client admitted to smoking marijuana prior to being stopped with his girlfriend, a passenger in the car. 

After performing field sobriety evaluations, my client was arrested for DUI for being under the influence of marijuana. When the officer requested a urine test, my client consented.  The urine test came back positive for marijuana. Georgia law states that a person is guilty of a DUI if that person “drives a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana to the extent that person is rendered incapable of driving safely.”  Since marijuana is detectable in urine even a month after use, it is possible to be convicted of this type of DUI weeks after it was last used, if the State can prove, through physical appearance, driving, and field sobriety evaluations, that you were incapable of driving safely. This is part of what makes marijuana DUIs so tricky.

Because of my client’s age, even a plea to reckless driving would have resulted in a 6-month suspension. The key to a urine test is that by the time marijuana (or its inactive ingredient) gets into your urine, you are no longer under the influence of the effects of the marijuana.  In this case, I was able to resolve the case as follows: the DUI was reduced entirely, and the client pled to a city ordinance violation, which did not go on his driving record or on his criminal history.

There are hundreds of ways to win a DUI case, especially when you consult an experienced DUI and traffic lawyer in your area. We just need to be open and creative enough to find the way for each particular 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.

March’s Case of the Month: How an Underage DUI Became a Simple MIP

This month’s case shows the value of having an experienced DUI attorney who has a reputation for aggressively defending cases.  In an Athens-Clarke County case, my UGA student client was in a Pre Trial Diversion for a previous Minor in Possession (MIP) of Alcohol charge when he was arrested by Athens police and charged with DUI.

case of the monthSo now, he had a DUI charge and the old MIP charge pending in Athens. Unsurprisingly, the police report had my client as being intoxicated, but after reviewing the video, I thought otherwise of the evidence.

The cop had stopped my client for a broken taillight, yet the cop was approaching my client, and it would have been extremely difficult for the cop to actually see a broken taillight. The video revealed my client’s physical appearance to be normal. My client denied drinking and refused a breath test after arrest. Any clues on the Field Sobriety Evaluations were minimal.

Nonetheless, because the client was under 21 at the time of the arrest, any evidence of him having consumed alcohol could have resulted in a guilty verdict. We employed the use of an expert in Field Evaluations who agreed with me that the evidence was slim and was known and respected by the prosecutor. Eventually, we negotiated a plea to 2 MIPs, allowing my client to continue driving and to not have a DUI conviction on his record.

One more thing: We structured the plea so that the MIP pleas would not result in a suspension of client’s license. (He could have had a 1 year suspension!)  It is important that a traffic lawyer knows how to structure pleas for the best possible outcome, and this means the lawyer must have a thorough knowledge of Georgia Traffic Laws.

If you are arrested for DUI or other traffic violations, contact Mr. GaDUI today. Also be sure to follow me, Mickey Roberts on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more traffic law updates and news.

Can Your DUI Be Reduced to Reckless Driving? February’s Case of the Month

Don’t settle for DUI. In some cases, such as this month’s featured DUI case, a DUI can be reduced to reckless driving. My client was stopped in the city of Duluth, Georgia. She was coming home from work late at night, and the officer stopped her for speeding. In the video of the case, the officer said my client smelled like alcohol, her eyes were bloodshot, and her speech was slurred; he administered the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus HGN and found the maximum number of clues. After her arrest, my client refused to take any State breath test.

zero tolerance georgia

Although her prior DUIs were several years ago, this arrest marked my client’s third lifetime DUI. The video revealed my client’s speech and walk were normal. She was argumentative with the officer, but I argued that was because she felt she was being wrongfully arrested. The officer’s evaluation of the HGN was absolutely inconsistent with her physical appearance, and I argued that therefore the HGN should be totally discounted.

Because of those arguments, as well as my long standing professional relationship with the Duluth Court, the charges were reduced to a lesser offense; my client was able to keep her license and walk out of Duluth Court, with no probation.

The fact is that in today’s DUI World, a lawyer’s experience, reputation, and relationships are important. When someone is looking to hire a DUI lawyer, the questions must be asked: How much experience do you have in DUI defense? Do you have good reputation in the legal community? What is your relationship with the police, prosecutors, and court?
If you are arrested for DUI or other traffic violations, contact Mr. GaDUI today. Also be sure to follow me, Mickey Roberts on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more traffic law updates and news.  

Case of the Month: When Parking the Car is the Best Option

Even efforts to make good decisions can go awry when you do not hire the right DUI lawyer. However, in November’s case of the month, because my client went the correct route in getting out of her DUI case, a good outcome was possible in a not-so-good situation.

My client had been drinking when she found herself in a situation where she needed to leave for her safety. After she started driving, she realized that she might have had too much to drink to drive safely. After pulling into a subdivision and parking on a side street, she turned off the car, took the keys out of the ignition, moved over to the passenger side, and drifted off to sleep. Almost 2 hours later, a resident called the police, who came to the scene to investigate. After waking my client up, the officer arrested her for DUI.

One of the key elements in prosecuting a DUI is that the State must prove that you were in control of a moving vehicle and were impaired to drive.  It is possible to be convicted of DUI, EVEN if the officer does not see you driving. You can be convicted by “circumstantial” evidence. For instance, if you are in a parked car with the engine running, you admit that you had parked the car recently, or if you are involved in an accident and admit that you were driving.

The key elements to not being found guilty of DUI–even though you tried to do the right thing by parking your car–are as follows:
  1. Turn the engine off, take the keys out of the ignition, and move to the back seat.
  2. If approached by the police, do not answer any questions relating to when your driving ended, how much you had to drink, etc.
  3. Do NOT submit to any field evaluations.
  4. Do NOT take any breath test at the scene.
  5. If you think you would register above the legal limit, DON’T take any state test.
 

In this particular case, I was able to find a compassionate prosecutor who agreed to dismiss the DUI charge. One would think that if a person was trying to do the right thing by getting off the road, the State would give you a break. However, this rarely happens in the DUI world. Therefore, you need to exercise your Constitutional rights and protect yourself as much as you can.

For more DUI arrest advice you can connect with me on FacebookTwitter and Google+.  Keep reading the MRGADUI blog for the latest traffic law news.

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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.
Case of the Month