Category Archives: DUIs in the News

Drivers Who Use Marijuana Reportedly Twice as Likely to have Accidents

Mickey Roberts, MRGADUI attorneyWhen most people think of DUI, they think about driving under the influence of alcohol. However, driving under the influence of illegal drugs is also driving under the influence. Marijuana is the most commonly detected drug in drivers, but whether or not marijuana causes an increased number of accidents remains a question. A recent study from Columbia University found that drivers who use marijuana are more than twice as likely to be involved in car accidents as those who do not. Using a meta-analysis of nine epidemiologic studies, the researchers found that the risk of an accident increases in people with a concentration of marijuana-produced compounds found by chemical test. Furthermore, the risk of a crash also increases with self-reported marijuana-users. In fact, eight out of nine of the studies determined that the risk of an accident significantly increases among drivers who use marijuana. This research is likely to cause debates about driver’s rights and medical marijuana in states that allow it. In Georgia, however,

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Hines Ward’s Recent DUI Sheds Light on Wrong and Right Ways to Deal with DUI

mr ga dui Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Dancing with the Stars Champion Hines Ward was recently in the news after he was arrested in DeKalb County for allegedly driving under the influence. He was pulled over after swerving and hitting a curb. According to the police report, Ward smelled like alcohol and performed poorly on field sobriety tests including the portable breath test and balance tests. He was released from custody after posting bail, and is now dealing with the consequences of DUI allegations including potential suspension from his position in the NFL and media backlash against another athlete in trouble.   While Ward’s case is highlighted because he is a public figure, there are aspects of his case that can help others in the same situation. The first step in avoiding a DUI arrest is prevention. Make plans to have a designated driver or cab come pick you up after a night of drinking.   First, Ward should not have submitted to any of the roadside field tests. If you are stopped and suspected of DUI in the state of Georgia, you are not legally required to take any field sobriety tests. Therefore, you should never submit to any roadside field sobriety tests including the horizontal gaze, walk-and-turn, or one-leg-stand tests.  At a hearing or trial, the officer who initially pulled Ward over will be able to use these roadside field tests against Ward as proof of Ward’s inability to operate a car safely.

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Gwinnett DUI Task Force Receives MADD Award for Most Arrests

The Georgia chapter of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has recognized the Gwinnett Police DUI Task Force as the top force in Georgia for its  over 1200 DUI arrests last year. One officer made over 280 arrests! Impressive, right? Here’s the problem:  the news coverage of this award.

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In the news: Another breath machine with problems

For some odd reason, many judges and most prosecutors I know here in Georgia believe that Georgia’s Intox 5000 machine is accurate and pretty much infallible. However, there is reason to believe that Georgia’s breath test machine may not be accurate. Well once again we are hearing of breath tests being thrown out because of miscalibrated machines. This from Philadelphia:

“A day after Philadelphia police announced that miscalibrated breathalyzers had compromised 1,147 drunken-driving cases, District Attorney Seth Williams  declared he would conduct a wholesale review of all DUI cases during the 15 months in question.

Philadelphia police file 8,000 to 10,000 drunken-driving cases each year, so the review announced Thursday by Williams’ office will involve a staggering amount of work that will take months to complete. 

Deputy District Attorney Edward McCann, chief of the Criminal Division, decided to launch the review, said Williams’ spokeswoman, Tasha Jamerson. Assistant District Attorney Lynn Nichols will lead a team of prosecutors and staff that will examine the cases from September 2009 to November 2010.

McCann is also implementing training on DUI cases for prosecutors that will emphasize recognizing potential problems with the Breathalyzer devices.

Finally, Jamerson said, the District Attorney’s Office will start doing its own calibration checks on Breathalyzers rather than depend solely on police certification.

The real bill will be some time in coming.

Besides the cost of reviewing thousands of DUI prosecutions and likely retrying some, the police and city could face civil lawsuits by people wrongly convicted – some of whom may have lost their driver’s license, their job, or their freedom.

Though police officials have a list of about 400 people affected by the miscalibrated machines, Jamerson said Williams had decided a full review was needed.

Though defense lawyers specializing in DUI cases said only two of the Police Department’s eight Breathalyzers had proved inaccurate, police said Wednesday that the total was four. Some court-system sources said that number was likely to increase.”

Georgia’s procedure for “calibrating” the Intox 5000 is a joke. The criteria calls for a State Trooper to come out and inspect Intox machines only once every 3 months; and even then most scientists agree that the protocol is not in any way scientific. Yet these machines are used daily to convict people of DUI. In Georgia, the State does not have to provide information relating to the internal source code of the computer which operates the machine; nor is the State under an obligation to provide full information regarding the testing of these machines; nor does the State maintain breath samples(even though the machine allows it) so that the Defendant could obtain an independent measurement of the breath sample.

  Until Georgia truly does independent calibrations daily (meaning not being calibrated by a police agency), with full scientific protocol, how can anyone not doubt the accuracy of such machines?

One Bad Decision Causes Harsh Consequences for Atlanta DUI Woman

atlanta dui consequencesLinda Lisska McJunkin had it all, and in a split second it was gone.  A well-known high school and college athlete with two degrees from Georgia Tech, a loving family, and a brand new real estate license to top it all off, Linda made a single bad decision in October 2004 that affected every decision she’d made prior.  After consuming four drinks out celebrating with friends, Linda drove drunk into head-on traffic and took two lives. Pleading guilty on two counts of vehicular homicide in Atlanta, she was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison. Released recently on parole for good behavior, she’ll spend the remainder of the 10 years on parole and 5 years remaining on probation.

Last month, Linda spoke publicly, for the first time since she was released from state prison, to a group of GA Tech student-athletes.  In a word, Linda could be described as humbled. The AJC quoted her saying, “I don’t think there’s a part of me that isn’t different.”  With college diplomas and real estate license in one hand and felony charge in the other, Linda now works retail for hourly wages.

As an Atlanta DUI lawyer, I hear stories just like this one all too often. When you hear a story like this on the news, it’s natural to think the worst of the driver who drove drunk and killed people. It’s devastating.  In no way am I defending Linda or saying what she did was right.  The point I’m trying to make is that before that October night, Linda was a regular person.  Just like you.  Just like me. She had everything going for her.  After a night out with friends, her main concern (consider it selfish or human nature) was getting home because she had to work the following morning.  She didn’t think about what could happen in response to her DUI in Atlanta; she really didn’t think at all.

People make the same mistake Linda made daily; the only difference is that Linda didn’t get away with it like so many others do. Drunk drivers get behind the wheel thinking they’ll be fine, they’re just going right down the road, and it’s no big deal.  Just ask Linda, vehicular homicide is a huge deal, which means even driving “tipsy” is a big deal.  So next time you consider driving, even just the least bit impaired, think about Linda’s story.  Think about Linda’s daughter and the years of her life that Linda missed while she was in prison.  Think about the two families who lost their sons in the accident.  Just think.

For more information on me, Mickey Roberts or MR GA DUI, visit my website and keep reading the blog.

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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.
DUIs in the News (3)