A drunk driving conviction carries serious penalties in Georgia and can affect your finances, your freedom, and your future. Regardless of the circumstances of your arrest, you need to speak to a qualified and experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. I have fought for the rights of many others charged with DUI, and I would be happy to review your case and discuss your options.
What Is a DUI in Georgia?
In every state in the U.S., a driver is considered drunk if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. However, it might surprise you to learn that you don’t have to have a BAC of .08 to be charged with a DUI in Georgia. If your BAC is between .05 and .08, you could still be charged with a DUI if the prosecutor can show that you were “less safe” to operate a vehicle. In other words, if the police officer thinks that your driving ability is impaired even though your BAC is less than .08, you can be charged with the same offense as if you were over .08. If a sobriety test shows that your BAC is .08 or higher, it will be presumed that you were intoxicated and that your driving was impaired. This is known as DUI per se.
Penalties for DUI Conviction in Georgia
Georgia comes down hard on drunk drivers. For a first offense, you face a fine of up to $1000, jail time of anywhere from ten days to one year, DUI school, 40 hours of community service, one year of probation, and a one-year license suspension. With each subsequent conviction, the penalties increase. Ultimately, you could lose your license, pay a $5000 fine, and spend five years in state prison. With these possible consequences, you do not want to trust just any criminal defense attorney with your case. You want a lawyer who has a record of success defending DUIs.
Possible DUI Defenses
There is no doubt that drunk drivers are dangerous and that they should be held accountable for the harm they cause. However, in their aggressive efforts to crack down on drunk driving, Georgia authorities often violate people’s rights. When I take a DUI defense case, I look at the following possibilities:
- Was the traffic stop or vehicle search conducted legally? If the officer who pulled you over on suspicion of drunk driving lacked probable cause, the stop might have been illegal.
- Were your rights violated when you were arrested? Police officers have to follow certain protocols when questioning and arresting a suspect, even in DUI cases. If the officer violated your rights, the charges could be dismissed.
- Was the sobriety test accurate? Breath testing for alcohol presents a lot of problems. The validity of these tests should always be questioned by an attorney. Likewise, the timing of blood testing can be an issue, and blood samples can be mishandled or misidentified.
- Is there evidence to prove a DUI Less Safe charge? A DUI Less Safe charge relies on an officer’s observations of your driving and behavior to prove that you are impaired despite a BAC of less than .08. An attorney will examine and question the evidence against you.
- Is there an applicable affirmative defense? In some cases, an affirmative defense—where you admit that you had been drinking but provide a valid excuse—might apply. Examples include asserting that you were in an emergency situation, you did not know you were intoxicated, you were driving under duress, or that you are the victim of police entrapment.
Each DUI case I take is unique, and I will build a defense that takes your individual situation into account. Often, the best outcome involves negotiating to avoid jail time and the loss of your license, but I will always keep you informed of your options and the potential consequences of various decisions.
Always Fight a DUI
You might feel like your case is hopeless, but that should not prevent you from talking to a DUI defense attorney if you are facing charges. I will work hard to secure the best possible outcome for you, whether that means a dismissal of the charges or bargaining for less severe penalties. There is usually something I can do to improve your situation, so do not hesitate to contact me if you or your teenage or young adult son or daughter has been charged with a DUI.