I had never been arrested in my life, nor have I had so much as a speeding ticket in the last 11 years. I was stopped on a rural road in Banks County, GA at a little past midnight on Jun 11, 2018 by Deputy Sheriff Joshua Robertson. I explained that I had 4 beers in the last 3-4 hours, and the last one was an hour ago. I also told him that I had just purchased my car a week ago, and had never driven on this particular stretch of road before and was afraid I was lost in the dark so I was looking at my GPS. He asked me if I would consent to a one-legged stand with my right foot extended 6 inches above the ground and count to 30. At this point I notified him that I have osteoarthritis in my knees, but agreed to try it. He demonstrated by lifting his foot about 18 inches off the ground and asked me if I understood. I'm a 63 yr old man and followed his example (later verified by another officer's body cam). I could not maintain my balance. I told him again about my bad knees. He then asked me to take an alcoholizer test and I refused knowing that those tests are not accurate and I'd already conceded to having some alcohol in my system. He then took me around to the side of his vehicle, read me his orange card, explained that if I refused a breathalizer my license would most likely be suspended. I agreed to go back to the station to take the test, but then realized he had already decided to book me when he called to have my car towed. This, despite the fact that in no way was I demonstrating any indication of being impaired, other than a test meant for a younger person that I couldn't perform if I was sober. I blew .06 on the breathalizer at the jail, which is .02 under the legal limit for DUI in "Per Se" in GA. I was booked for “DUI Unsafe”, reckless operation (land violation), and speeding (72/55) and was not able to bond out until the next morning. I had to find and pay for a bail bondsman, find my way to pick up my vehicle, and pay for the towing and storage. Within the next couple days I had contacted some attorneys in the area to explore my options and get an idea of the fees. I decided on Sean Black of Toccoa, GA because he was the only local attorney who claimed to handle DUI cases exclusively. His legal clerk told me “that all we do”. I went in for a free consultation, and decided to hire him. I paid half of the $3,500 fee right away, with a promise to pay the balance soon thereafter (I'm retired and on a pension, but managed to pay it off in 2 weeks). At first I was satisfied that the paperwork that was filed with the county and copied to me, was adequate and proper. I phoned a few times over the next couple weeks and my calls were not returned. I found out later from his legal clerk that he had traveled to TX due to a death in the family. I called a few more times and received cursory responses from his clerk. I began to get the distinct impression that they had my money and now I wasn't so important to them. I requested to see the video evidence including the body cam and dash cam because I was certain that the reckless op charge resulted from looking at the GPS on my phone which was mounted to my driver side air vent, which caused me to veer into the other lane. I am sure I was over the speed limit, but not by the amount stated by the Deputy. I was able to view the body cam video which substantiated my version of events. I asked my attorney again to request the dash cam video, and proof of speed. I met with Sean Black once before my court case to discuss my options, and asked again for the "missing" video. He indicated that it would be better to take a plea, and I told him I would only accept a plea if the fine was not excessive, no points on my license, and no probation. He indicated he would take it to the Banks County solicitor. I phoned twice but never heard from him again until my court date, at which time I again asked about the dash cam video. And I was told that he had given me everything he had.
Response from Sean Black January 7, 2019
I am sorry that a successful outcome is not always to everyone's liking. A DUI case in Georgia can be prosecuted based on a alcohol level than 0.08 for adults over 21. Such a charge is based on an allegation of less safe driving. Even where video evidence is helpful to the client, the State can continue to prosecute a DUI charge. In a case like this one, the client will often be faced with a choice between a plea offer of a reduced charge, avoiding some of the negative consequences of the DUI charge, or a trial on the DUI charge. That decision is always for the client to make. When a client wants a trial after considering all of the alternatives, I am always ready and able to move forward to trial.