DUI Defense Attorney

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DUI Overview

Are you in need of a DUI defense attorney Decatur GA trusts?    Defenses to a DUI are almost as limitless as the ways in which people are stopped, investigated, arrested, and accused of committing a DUI.  At the law office of Andrew R. Lynch, we prepare every case as if it were going to trial.  We do this by learning as much about you, your case, and your goals for your case as possible.  We also investigate the officers, evidence, and witnesses involved in your case.  Armed with this information, we build a legal and factual trial defense specifically designed for you.

In preparing a case for trial, one of the most important factors for any DUI defense attorney Decatur GA can offer is discovering the weaknesses in the charges against you.  Perhaps the officer in your case is poorly trained, lacks credibility, and has a lengthy disciplinary history.  By discovering valuable information such as this, many cases can be dismissed or reduced to a non-DUI traffic violation without trial.  When the State of Georgia pursues a DUI prosecution, they must prove you were DUI beyond a reasonable doubt.  You are not required to prove anything.  You hire a skilled DUI attorney to find the weaknesses in the State’s case.

DUI Laws

In the state of Georgia, it is illegal to drive or be in control of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.  DUI arrests and prosecutions are not simply limited to people driving a car with a blood alcohol content above .08.  DUI arrests and prosecutions can be based on driving while under the influence of many substances including alcohol, illegal drugs (such as marijuana or cocaine), and even legal medications prescribed by your physician.

Per Se vs. Less Safe:

In Georgia, a DUI prosecution can be based on two types of evidence.  Many people are familiar with what is known as DUI Per Se, where the prosecution’s evidence is based on the results of a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine.  A DUI defense attorney Decatur GA relies on will be able to help you distinguish between the two.

The State also will pursue a DUI Less Safe conviction, where the evidence is based on your driving, interaction with the arresting officer, and the results of any field sobriety testing.  Field sobriety tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one legstand test (see field sobriety section).

Sentencing

Georgia law requires stiff penalties after a conviction for a DUI including jail time, supervised probation, large fines, suspension of your driver’s license, ignition interlock device, alcohol evaluation and treatment, and community service.  Many of these penalties are mandatory.  This means the judge in your case must impose a certain level of punishment if you are convicted, regardless of the facts of your case.

If you are convicted, the indirect costs of a DUI can follow you for years. The price of your insurance coverage will increase.  You may be prevented from purchasing insurance altogether.  Employment can be harder to find and keep with a DUI on your record.  If you drive for a living, a DUI can destroy your career altogether.  The help of a DUI defense attorney Decatur GA residents trust can help you avoid these penalties.

The penalties for a DUI grow increasingly more severe with each arrest and conviction for DUI.  People with multiple DUI’s often face increased jail time, larger fines, and extensive periods of license suspension.  If you have one or more prior DUI’s on your record it is critical to make sure you understand the seriousness of the potential penalties you face.

DUI Defenses

Potential DUI defenses can exist from the moment the Police turn their attention to you.  Before police can stop you, they must have probable cause to believe you are committing a crime.  For instance, driving with an expired tag or speeding.  After the police stop you, they must also have a legal reason to detain you, remove you from your car, and pursue their DUI investigation and arrest.

If these requirements are not met, any and all of these issues can be raised by a DUI defense attorney in  a pretrial motion to suppress.  A motion to suppress challenges the officer’s ability to detain and investigate you.  If the judge agrees with your motion to suppress, he or she may rule that your constitutional rights have been violated.  This can prevent the State from using any of the evidence the officer collected against you.  With no evidence, the State’s prosecution can be stopped long before a trial.

Once you are under arrest many officers forget, ignore, or refuse to tell you your Miranda rights.  The Constitution gives you the right to remain silent.  This right protects you from making your situation worse.  Even where you have admitted to being DUI or to drinking, the admission can be kept out of court if the State cannot establish it was given legally and not in violation of your Constitutional rights.

Officers often attempt to collect a sample of your blood, breath, or urine for testing.  Before you submit to any of these tests, the arresting officer is required by Georgia law to read you an Implied Consent Notice. It tells you the consequences of refusing the officer’s request.  If the Officer does not comply with Georgia law any blood, breath, or urine provided, or even the refusal to provide them, can be prevented from being used as evidence by the State in their prosecution of you.

In a DUI prosecution the State often has little evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the driver. In many cases, the officer is responding to an accident and did not witness you driving and no one else witnessed you driving.   It always important to remember the State has to prove more than the fact that you may have consumed some alcohol.  In some cases the State is incapable of proving you were even the driver.  A skilled DUI defense attorney Decatur GA can trust will be able to protect you from the State’s prosecution.

In cases where a judge finds the evidence an officer allegedly collected against you is allowed to be used against you at trial, the quality or value of the evidence and the credibility of the officer providing the evidence can be investigated and attacked by your DUI defense attorney.  In our legal system, the weight or the value of this evidence is for your jury to decide.  Everything from the road side field sobriety tests, the arresting officer’s training and disciplinary history, the maintenance of the Breathalyzer machine, to the conditions during the blood or breath sample can be attacked.

Being charged and prosecuted for a DUI is a terrible experience.   If you are convicted of a DUI it is something that can affect you for years to come, long after the days in jail are over, the time spent on probation has ended, and the loss of your privilege to drive has passed.  DUI Defense Attorney Andrew R. Lynch prepares every case as if it is going to trial.  This trial-ready mentality often provides us with the leverage necessary to resolve cases favorably, long before they reach a jury.

Refusing the Breath, Blood, or Urine Test

Under Georgia’s Implied Consent Law anyone driving on the road in the state is presumed to have consented to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine when requested by an officer during their investigation of a DUI.

If you refuse the chemical test, the arresting officer will likely attempt to take away your privilege to drive.  Often, people who have refused to take the State’s test during a DUI investigation will loose their license for a full year with no possibility of a limited driving permit.  In such cases your options are severely limited.  Often, the only way to get your license back is to get your charge reduced to something other than a DUI or to take your case to trial with a DUI Defense Attorney and get found not guilty.

Administrative License Suspension

To protect your license you must request an administrative license suspension hearing within ten business days after your arrest for DUI.   This is a civil, not criminal, hearing.  It is best to hire a DUI Defense Attorney to handle your ten day appeal.  At this hearing we will do one of two things: either negotiate with the arresting officer about resolving the DUI case with a reduction of the charge to something less serious than DUI or go forward with the hearing to try and save your privilege to drive in the state of Georgia.

This hearing is also the first opportunity you have to confront the arresting officer while he is under oath and force the officer to answer your questions.  This opportunity is the beginning of the legal proceedings that build the legal and factual defense that may lead to your case being dismissed by the State, reduced to a lesser charge, or a jury finding you not guilty at trial.

Field Sobriety Tests

Prior to the officer arresting you for a DUI they typically request that you attempt several field sobriety tests.  These tests are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Most of Georgia’s DUI officers are NHTSA trained and certified.  Most officers will ask you to complete a minimum of three field sobriety tests: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), the one-leg stand test, and the walk and turn test.

Andrew R. Lynch, DUI defense attorney Decatur GA has trusted for years, has gone through the same extensive training course in the administration and performance of NHTSA’s field sobriety testing as Georgia’s most highly trained and decorated DUI officers.  Andrew R. Lynch has the same, if not more, DUI training as many of the officers out there making arrests.  Our office uses this training against officers who have done their jobs poorly and wrong.

With the administration of each test, the arresting officer is attempting to build a case against you.  With each passing test they are collecting information they hope to justify your arrest for DUI.  Their reasoning is the worse you perform on their field sobriety tests, the less likely you are to be capable of driving safely.  These tests can be attacked from a technical performance approach and a common sense approach.  NHTSA requires officers to perform the field sobriety tests according to strict guidelines.  Frequently, officers are untrained or poorly trained and the tests results are not worth the paper the police report is printed on.

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