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Avoiding a DUI Conviction

Posted by attorney Cory Yager

Across the State of Georgia, police officers aggressively enforce DUI laws. DUI enforcement does protect the lives and property of the citizens of the State of Georgia. The question is whether the State meets its enormous burden to prove by proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a person has committed the offense of DUI. It is not illegal in Georgia to drive after consuming some alcohol so long as you are not so affected by alcohol (or another intoxicant) to the extend that it is less safe for the person to drive than if they were not so affected by the intoxicant. Just because a person is accused by the police of a DUI does not mean that they will ultimately be found guilty of the offense. You cannot effectively fight a DUI case alone. The costs of a DUI on an individual in addition to legal expenses, fines, and court fees include possible job implications, increases in insurance rates or cancellation of insurance in some cases, and stringent probation with imposition of community service, DUI School, and other consequences. Additionally conviction for a DUI in Georgia may result in jail time. What you need to know if you are stopped by a police officer - How to avoid and/or limit your exposure in a DUI pullover situation. Don't drive after you have consumed ANY amount of alcohol. - Though driving after consuming some amount of alcohol (so long as not impaired) is legal, it is not worth the risk. Much like abstaining from sex is the only 100% way to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, not driving after drinking is the only 100% effective way to insure you will not be arrested or prosecuted for a DUI. Don't volunteer information to the police officer - You have an absolute right to remain silent and not to say anything that might tend to incriminate you. Be polite, be compliant, give the officer your license and any requested documents, but do not answer any questions. Simply advise the officer you feel you are not free to leave and that you are invoking your rights. Do not take sobriety tests - In the State of Georgia, field sobriety tests are completely voluntary. Unfortunately, police officers are not required to tell you this. Often by the time a police officer asks you to do field sobriety tests he has already made the decision to arrest you. Politely decline to take any field tests requested by the officer. This will limit any incriminatory evidence against you. The Decision to take or not to take the Breath Test - Do not take ANY breath test into a portable hand held alco-sensor. This is just another type of field sobriety test. In terms of the State Administered Test of Breath or Blood, this is a difficult decision in the State of Georgia. Refusal of the breath test will result in a possibility of a one year suspension of your license or privilege to drive in Georgia Administratively, even for a first offense. This refusal however will also strengthen your case in the event that you have a BAC above the per se level as you would be precluding this evidence from being entered at trial. Taking the breath or blood test may shorten any administrative suspension if you are a first offender. Further, if convicted of a DUI a 1st DUI in 5 years in Georgia would result only in a 120 day suspension (assuming you take the risk reduction course) and during that 120 days, you would be entitled to a limited permit for essential driving.

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