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Category: DUI Laws

What is a “DUI Less Safe”?

Many people are under the impression that you cannot be arrested and convicted of a DUI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than .08 grams. This is incorrect. In Georgia, while the legal limit is .08, a person can be a DUI “less safe,” even if their BAC is below a .08.

dui less safe in georgiaIn Georgia, there is no legal presumption of impairment if your BAC is between a .05 and a .08.  If your BAC is below a .05, there is a rebuttable presumption that you are NOT impaired.
A DUI less safe is defined as “being under the influence of alcohol to the extent that you are less safe to drive.”

But what does it mean, legally, to be “DUI less safe to drive?” First, it means that you are less safe to drive than if you had not consumed alcohol or drugs. But, hey, that depends on the person’s tolerance, right? So, according to the Pattern Jury Charges that judges in Georgia read to jurors before deliberating, this is what “less safe” means:
A person is less safe to drive when that person is less efficient, less skillful, less coherent, less able, and less proficient to drive a car.

Notice that there is NOTHING that describes less safe as having your eyes jerk, or performing gymnastic floor exercises.  There is nothing about bloodshot eyes, or slurred speech or the smell of alcohol. The definition also does not mention anything about alcohol or drug blood levels.  The definition has to do with whether a person’s fine motor skills have been affected so much that they cannot effectively drive a car.

So the next time you are on a jury and are asked to decide if someone were DUI “less safe", remember that we are talking about driving ability here; is there evidence that the person was  able, efficient, skilful or proficient WHILE driving the car? Or is there simply collateral evidence that may or may not have anything to do with actual driving skill?

Hiring a qualified, knowledgeable DUI attorney can make all the difference in winning your case.  If you are arrested for DUI or other serious traffic matters, contact MrGaDUI today. Also be sure to follow me, Mickey Roberts, on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more traffic law updates and news. 

No Laughing Matter: The Serious Consequences of a Second DUI Conviction

One DUI is certainly one more than anyone needs or wants, but a second DUI conviction carries the very real possibility of hefty fees and fines, significant jail time, hundreds of hours of community service, long-term license suspension, and tag forfeiture of any car titled in your name.
The Georgia legislature has enacted strongly worded laws and put in place severe penalties for anyone convicted of driving under the influence for the second time. While some of the penalties may be lessened at the discretion of a lenient judge, in general, second-time offenders should expect to receive a lengthy, expensive, and difficult punishment.

Expense
A second DUI carries a heavy financial burden. The state of Georgia charges a minimum of $600 in DUI fines, but in many cases judges raise the fine to over $1,000. This fine is in addition to 40% of that amount in statutory surcharges. While that number by itself is daunting, keep in mind that it does not include DUI attorney’s fees, lost wages due to missed work, the expense of completing court-mandated alcohol or driving education, or the transportation costs incurred after you lose your license.

Time
Second-time Georgia DUI offenders face between three days and 12 months in jail. A judge may reduce the requisite jail time, but offenders must spend a minimum of 72 hours behind bars. In Metro Atlanta, it is common for second-time DUI offenders to spend around 10 days in jail. You must complete a clinical alcohol and drug evaluation and attend what is commonly referred to as ‘DUI school.’ Factor in any time spent in your attorney’s office, in court, or performing the mandatory 240 hours of community service, and a second DUI is likely to have extremely time-consuming consequences.

Stress
The stress of a second arrest, incarceration, court date, and loss of any driving for a at least four months  – can take a heavy emotional toll on both the offender and his or her loved ones. Adding to the stress of the experience is the embarrassment of having your photo and DUI conviction published in the local legal newspaper. When the requisite four-month period of license suspension is up, offenders must deal with the stress and expense of applying for a limited permit. In order to obtain a limited permit, the offender’s vehicle must be outfitted – at the offender’s expense – with an Interlock Ignition Device (IID) for 12 months. Then you are entitled to a limited permit with no IID for 2 more months before becoming eligible for full license reinstatement.

Clearly, a second DUI conviction creates significant hardship for the offender. If you have been charged as a second-time DUI offender, it’s crucial to contact an experienced DUI lawyer who knows the law and defends DUI cases. Atlanta DUI attorney Mickey Roberts has been successfully fighting for drivers for over 34 years. Connect with Mickey on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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.

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.

5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a DUI Lawyer

It’s an understatement to say that being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) can be an overwhelming experience. Even in the first moments, you begin to consider what the next step should be.  According to Georgia DUI attorney Mickey Roberts, the logical next step is to find a great lawyer who can address your case effectively and professionally. Below, he provides five key points that should be brought up when selecting your DUI attorney.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Thoroughly learn the lawyer’s background and experience. Inquire about where they attended law school and their time of graduation, as well any membership in bar organizations and length of practice.
  1. Get a feel for their client base. How long has the lawyer been representing clients facing DUI? Is it their specialty, or just something done on the side? How many clients are represented each year?
  1. Their success is your business. Ask about their success rate within the court, and welcome feedback on your case so they can understand the charges and if they believe they can take you on as a client. If you’re satisfied with the amount of cases won, it’s a good indicator that this is a trustworthy lawyer for you.
  1. Assess your case. Lay out the details of your arrest and the charges you’re currently facing. Ask the lawyer what they would recommend in terms of a guilty plea or trial. Request for them to lay out the factors in your case that work in your favor or against you to determine how the DUI lawyer will aggressively defend you in court.
  1. Consider the cost. Yes, DUI arrests can be expensive. But think about the possible outcomes: you could lose your driver’s license, experience an increase in insurance premiums, DUI school, fines, and possible jail time. And of course it costs money to hire a lawyer.

After meeting with your potential attorney, evaluate. Consider what you heard about their experience, success rates, and applicable fees. Do your research. If you believe the attorney will fight hard for your case and value your triumph over your charges, hire them! To contact a reputable DUI in Georgia, call Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow Mickey Roberts on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for traffic law updates and 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.
DUI Laws