Category Archives: Blog

DUI Defined: What is a DUI in Georgia?

There are many types of DUIs (driving under the influence) in Georgia, but the most common type is that a person is “driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

Police Officer - Eye Coordination

What does it mean, legally, to be “under the influence?” Firstly, 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.

Take notice: there is nothing that describes “less safe” as having your eyes jerk (examined by the Hortizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test) or performing gymnastic floor exercises recognized as field sobriety tests.  There is no indication about bloodshot eyes, 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 was the DUI-version of “less safe”, remember the context of driving ability. 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?

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.  

A DUI Lasts Forever (Almost)

Valentine’s Day reminds me of roses, candy, and diamonds. There used to be a commercial that said, “Diamonds are forever.”

DUI in GAWell, just like a diamond, a DUI arrest and conviction can last forever in Georgia. There are two types of “records.” One is your driving record with Drivers Services. A DUI conviction (or guilty plea) stays on the driving history forever. While the ramifications for future license suspension, insurance problems and employment may not last past 10 years, these are still potential problems you must deal with should you decide to plead guilty or be found guilty of a DUI.

A DUI arrest is another matter. Under current Georgia law, which changed in July 2013, an arrest record (which is accessible to the public) can only be restricted under very specific conditions. Mainly, you MUST have all of the charges dismissed, either by agreement with the prosecutor or through a not guilty verdict.  If the DUI is amended, say to reckless driving, then the public still has access to the arrest (although the record should show that the DUI was amended to a lesser charge). If the DUI is dismissed, but you are found guilty on other charges such as speeding, failure to maintain lane, etc. then, again the arrest will still show on your public record.

Therefore, you must always take into account your driving and criminal records when trying to decide how to handle your DUI.  I have spent years and have hundreds of case experiences in attempting to resolve DUI cases with records restriction as one of our goals. If you are concerned about your driving record or criminal background checks, you MUST hire a DUI lawyer with some expertise in that area.

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.  

What You Need to Know About Child Endangerment Charges

While some may believe that driving under the influence (DUI) is not a serious crime, more Georgians go to jail for DUI charges than any other crime. In many cases, you can face jail time, pay hefty fines, and log lengthy community service and driving school hours. The harsh reality is that a DUI conviction can dramatically change your life without an experienced DUI attorney like Mickey Roberts who can effectively handle a DUI. It may be hard to imagine much worse than the consequences of a DUI in itself. However, when you add a child endangerment charge on top of a DUI, the punishment undoubtedly increases.

under 21 dui in georgiaAny person charged with DUI while transporting a child under 14 can also be charged with a separate charge of “DUI Child Endangerment.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 20% of children under 14 who were killed in car crashed in 2014 were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes. Of the 239 children from this group, 52% were passengers in vehicles with drivers who had a BAC of .08 or higher.

In some states, child endangerment constitutes child abuse. Statistics show that impaired drivers are less likely to use proper safety restraints for their children. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, sober drivers in fatal crashes properly restrain their minor passengers an average of 30.5% of the time, while only 18% of impaired drivers do.

Child Endangerment is actually a separate crime than DUI. The endangerment charge cannot be “merged” into the DUI. It cannot be dismissed just because you plead guilty to the DUI. Additionally, child endangerment is considered a separate DUI offense by the Department of Driver’s Services. Therefore, if you are convicted of DUI while transporting two children under 14, you would automatically be declared a Habitual Violator because you would have three DUI convictions.

While 3 DUI convictions would carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5000 fine, a 4th DUI arrest would be considered a felony, with a possible sentence of one to three years in prison and a $5000 fine.

Regardless of whether your DUI is considered a felony or a misdemeanor, it is important to keep in mind that a drunk driving child endangerment conviction will remain on your criminal record permanently. Consequently, anyone who performs a background check will be enabled to see your conviction of driving under the influence and endangering the life of a child.

Because a flawed criminal record can limit your suitability and acceptance for employment, housing, and educational opportunities in the future, it is important to hire a DUI lawyer like Mickey Roberts who also is knowledgeable in getting arrest records restricted from public view.  If you are arrested for DUI or other traffic violations, contact Mr. GaDUI today. Also be sure to follow Mickey on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more traffic law updates and news.

Stay Safe and Designate Your Driver on New Year’s Eve

The holiday season always brings increased law enforcement on the roads. With many people traveling out of town or attending parties and gatherings that typically involve drinking, Atlanta DUI attorney Mickey Roberts reminds everyone to plan a safe New Year’s Eve and to keep Georgia’s Operation Zero Tolerance campaign in mind to avoid a DUI. Operation Zero Tolerance organizes concentrated patrols and sobriety checkpoints to target drunk drivers.

zero tolerance georgiaAccording to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were 1,119 alcohol-related crashes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day last year, resulting in 679 injuries and 20 fatalities. Georgia State Patrol will be out full force on the roads with the possibility of checkpoints at busy spots or roads where accidents commonly occur.

As seen in previous traffic DUI blogs, Mickey’s 4 simple rules can help drivers avoid incriminating themselves during field sobriety tests or verbal interrogations at these checkpoints or if they are pulled over. While Operation Zero Tolerance occurs throughout the year, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety uses this holiday season to remind drivers how dangerous impaired driving can be. It is vital to choose an experienced and qualified attorney with a solid track record who can defend you if you are charged with any traffic violations.

If you insist on drinking, it is imperative to plan your travel alternatives and be wise about alcohol consumption.  Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your keys at home or with your driver. If you do not have a designated driver, be sure to take advantage of ride programs, use public transportation, or hire a cab. Like many states, Georgia offers free resources to help people find safe rides on New Year’s Eve sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Other organizations, such as AAA also offers their Tow to Go program where anyone, AAA member or not, can receive a ride within a 10-mile radius that brings both the driver and his/her vehicle home safely.

Attorney Mickey Roberts urges all drivers to drive carefully and make wise decisions especially during the holiday season with heightened police enforcement. If you are arrested for DUI or other traffic violations, contact Mr. GaDUI today. Also be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more 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.
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