If you have been arrested for DUI, even if your BAC was over .08%, it is important to remember that an arrest does not equal a conviciton. An experienced and knowledgeable DUI defense attorney, like Richard Lawson, will look at all aspects of your case in order to determine what defenses are applicable and what challenges can be raised. What challenges or defenses are appropriate will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. This page will give an overview of a few the various DUI Defenses that can be used.
There are numerous things that a Hall County DUI defense attorney can challenge when it comes to your DUI arrest. These include:
- The Traffic Stop: If the police officer did not have a good reason to pull your over in the first place, then this can be used as a defense to a DUI charge. If you were obeying the rules of the road, then you likely were not too intoxicated to be driving. Some common traffic violations that police pull people over for in DUI cases are failure to maintain a lane and improper lane change. However, even if you commit one of these traffic infractions, it does not mean that you were impaired. You could have swerved for any number of reasons, such as avoiding debris on the road. In addition, a signal is only required in Georgia if there is another car that you need to notify and the failure to signal if you are the only car around may not be a sufficient reason to stop you.
- The Roadblock: When a police department is conducting a DUI checkpoint, there are specific protocols that the officers must follow. For example, the roadblock must have a legitimate purpose and all cars must be stopped. If the protocols are not properly followed then your case may be dismissed because the roadblock was constitutionally impermissible.
- Avoidance Of The Roadblock: A police officer may pull you over if you attempt to avoid the DUI stop because that officer assumes you are trying to avoid being arrested. However, he needs to have a reasonable, articulable suspicion in order to stop you. Moreover, avoiding arrest is not the only reason that you may have needed to turn around near a DUI checkpoint. You may have simply been turning around because you forgot something or may have turned onto a side street because that was the direction that you intended to go. If you didn't commit any traffic infractions in making the turn, then a law enforcement officer may have no reason to try and pull you over.
- The Field Sobriety Test: Often to determine intoxication a police officer will have you perform one or more field sobriety tests. Common tests include: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test. Your ability to successfully complete these tests will help the officer determine if you are impaired. However, people can fail field sobriety tests or perform poorly on these tests for a number of reasons, even if they are completely sober. Some people have a nystagmus that occurs naturally or is caused by a medication. Weight and age can also affect a person's ability to perform tests well, as can environmental conditions like bad weather, lighting, or having to perform a test on a hill.
- The Portable Breath Test: While the numerical results of a portable breath test are not admissible in court, they are used to help officers determine if you are under the influence. However, officers can only testify as to whether the device detected alcohol and cannot reveal the number that the device registered. Moreover, only approved devices can be used to test those suspected of DUI.
- The Implied Consent Notice: Georgia, like most every state, has an implied consent statute that requires an individual who is arrested for DUI to submit to a chemical test in order to determine his or her blood alcohol level. Your consent is 'implied' when you drive on the roads of the state. Officers are required to read an implied consent notice to a person who has been asked to submit to a chemical test. If the officer does not read the notice, the notice is not the current or correct version, the officer somehow misleads you or otherwise does not follow protocol, you may be able to get the the results of the chemical test suppressed.
- The Chemical Test Itself: There are a number of things that can affect a chemical test and therefore its admissibility. If the equipment used to test a suspected drunk driver's BAC levels is not functioning properly or has not been properly maintained then the results the device produces may be incorrect. If you are not given the test within a certain time period, three hours in Georgia, the results may not be admissible. In addition, there are others things that can affect the test results such as residual mouth alcohol, medical conditions like gastric reflux, or even substances like mints or denture adhesive.
- Lack Of A Warrant On A Blood Test: The United States Supreme Court recently ruled in the case of Birchfield v. North Dakota that a driver cannot give implied consent to a blood test because of the invasive nature of the test. The court stated that to get a blood sample, a police officer should first get a warrant. However, warrantless breath tests are still permissible as searches incident to arrest.
- Refusing A Chemical Test: You can also challenge your refusal to submit to a chemical test, as you may not have actually intended to refuse the test. For example, silence could be misconstrued as refusing to take the test when you are really only thinking over what you want to do.
These are just a few examples of defenses that a knowledgeable Hall County defense attorney can raise in order to fight your DUI charge. Again, what defenses are applicable to your case will depend on what happened. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Hall County, please do not hesitate to contact Hall County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today. You can give us a call at (404) 816-4440 or contact us online.