If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you’ve probably already spent a night in jail. Your first priority now is to try to avoid the conviction and get your license back. Hiring an experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer gives you the best chance at beating your charges or getting a reduced sentence. Contact a Cobb County DUI lawyer immediately to discuss your case.
Convicting a Drunk Driver in Georgia
For prosecutors in Cobb County and other jurisdictions in Georgia, DUI cases can be particularly difficult to convict. The state of Georgia makes tens of thousands of DUI arrests every year, and to be sure that they’re processed properly, the courts and the state attorney’s office have standardized protocols for investigating driving under the influence and making drunk driving arrests.
Probable Cause for the Stop
If the police don’t have a valid reason to stop your car, any evidence of DUI will be rendered inadmissible and your case will be dismissed.
Valid reasons for a stop include:
- A driving pattern that’s consistent with intoxication
- A moving or non-moving violation
- Investigating an accident
- Flagging a vehicle in a legally authorized DUI checkpoint
- An anonymous tip
- Probable cause that the driver is suspected of an unrelated crime
Physical Observations of the Driver
Once the police have you stopped, they’ll note any physical indicators of intoxication. It’s important that they include these on your arrest affidavit to establish their need to investigate further.
Physical signs of intoxication include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Odor of an alcoholic beverage
- Profuse sweating
- Inability to balance
- Fumbling movements
- Slurred speech
Voluntary Field Sobriety Exercises
If officers believe that you’re intoxicated, they will ask you to perform field sobriety exercises. These are a series of tests designed to determine intoxication levels. The tests will usually be video recorded for courtroom presentation. Field sobriety exercises can sometimes be difficult even for sober individuals.
Like all other parts of the investigation, the officer must follow a strict protocol or the evidence may be inadmissible in court:
- Field sobriety exercises should be conducted on a clean, well-lit surface.
- The officer should explain and demonstrate each part of the test.
- The officer should explain to you that the exercises are voluntary.
In Georgia, these are the standard field sobriety exercises that officers use:
- One-Leg-Stand: You’re told to raise one foot off of the ground and count to thirty using a 1001, 1002, 1003 count.
- Walk-and-Turn: You are instructed to take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): This measures the smooth pursuit of your eyes. If you’re intoxicated, your eyes won’t be able to track a moving point easily. The officer can use his finger or the tip of a pen.
Chemical Testing and Implied Consent
If the officers on scene determine that you’re intoxicated, they will arrest you. This is the time when they’ll remind you that you agreed to a breath, blood, or urine test upon request when you got your driver’s license. If they suspect that your intoxication was due to drug use, they may insist on taking urine or blood, but for most DUIs, they’ll want a breath test. If your BAC (blood alcohol content) is .08 or higher, you will have to spend 24 hours in custody before they release you. The result of your chemical testing is admissible in court, but if you refuse testing, your license will automatically be suspended for a year.
Fight Your Charges With a Cobb County DUI Lawyer
You may not be able to do anything about the fact that you were arrested, but you can still fight your charges with an experienced attorney by your side. A DUI defense lawyer can examine the evidence against you and look for flaws in the prosecutorial case. If the police officers on scene made a mistake, your attorney can use that to your advantage. In Cobb County, the DUI defense lawyers at Smith, Schnatmeier, Dettmering & Kilgo, LLP, have assisted hundreds of clients who were charged with DUI. Call their Marietta law office today. Free initial consultation.