When people hear the term “DUI Investigation,” they often think about police investigating a possible driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) type case. This is a fair assumption. It is also one accurate explanation for what a DUI investigation is. However, if you hire an attorney well versed in DUI law, your attorney will launch their own DUI investigation. First, they will explore how it is the police did their investigation. Next, they will do some investigating of their own to determine whether there was a violation of caselaw, statute, or the United States or Georgia Constitutions that could result in the dismissal of reduction of charges.
DUI investigations by police and DUI attorneys can be broken down as follows.
- Examining the basis of the stop.
- Determining what led the police to extend the stop.
- Exploring the subsequent investigation.
- Collecting evidence.
- Reviewing evidence.
Examining the Basis of the Stop
The state of Georgia allows for the lawful stop of vehicles. For example, if a driver is speeding, weaving within their lane, crossing the center line, crossing the fog line, or fails to signal a turn, the police can stop the car. However, the police cannot stop a car because they don't like the political views expressed on a car's bumper stickers, or because they think all cars that are of a certain make and model might be tied to criminal activity, or because of the race of the driver. In every criminal DUI investigation, a good DUI attorney investigates the stated basis for the stop. However, this should not be the end of the analysis. Often there is a video of the driving conduct, which can be used to confirm the alleged driving conduct. In some cases, (more than the average citizen might imagine) the police report does not accurately reflect the alleged driving conduct. In these cases, depending on the precise situation presented, a DUI attorney can sometimes use the video to get evidence suppressed and the case dismissed.
Determining What Led the Police to Extend the Stop
In the normal course of events, even when the police lawfully stop a car, they cannot then use that stop to explore any possible criminal activity. They are only allowed to detain a person for the length necessary to address the issue at hand. Take, for example, a case where a person was speeding. Police may pull the person over and give them a ticket for speeding. Then, barring any unforeseen situation, they must let the person go on their way.
However, in many DUI cases, what starts as a simple stop to issue a ticket extends into a DUI investigation. A DUI attorney investigates each criminal case to determine whether the police's extended stop is legal. For example, if a person is pulled over for speeding, and the police notice a strong odor of alcohol, coupled with evidence the driver may have thrown up on themselves, along with a driver who is incapable of forming a complete sentence, this may give the police the added information they need in order to extend the stop beyond simply issuing a speeding ticket and exploring whether a DUI ticket may also be appropriate. On the other hand, if a person is stopped for speeding, and there is no indication they have been drinking excessively, if police extend the stop and ask the driver to perform roadside tests or take a preliminary breath test, this extension of the stop may not be legal. A DUI attorney who investigates the stop will be able to determine the legality of the extension of the stop and, where appropriate, litigate the issue. This can result in dismissal of the charges.
Exploring the Subsequent Investigation
Assuming the police have a legal basis to stop, and then extend the stop of a car, there are still issues to investigate. For example, if the police believe a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may ask a person to perform roadside tests to determine if they are intoxicated. How did the person perform on those tests? Police include this information in their reports. However, there is often video documenting the roadside tests. A DUI attorney investigates by reviewing these videos to confirm what is represented in the police reports. If, for example, a person performs the tests successfully, but the report says the person failed the tests, this can be a basis for a hearing before the court, challenging subsequent evidence such as a breath or blood test. This may result in a dismissal of the charges.
Collection of Evidence
When a person gives a breath or blood sample, there are rules about how those samples must be collected. For example, before a breath test, a person must be observed continuously by police for 20 minutes. If certain situations arise, such as the person belches, this results in restarting the 20-minute clock. A DUI attorney investigates to make certain the evidence was collected as prescribed. If police deviate from generally accepted collection practices, this may result in a suppression of the evidence and dismissal of the charges.
Review of Evidence
A DUI attorney doesn't just take the word of a police officer or prosecuting attorney. Instead, a DUI attorney examines the test results themselves, looking for any deviation from the norms, or any sign of an error in the testing itself.
Are You Facing DUI Charges?
If you are facing DUI charges, our Hall County DUI attorneys can help. Contact us for a free consultation about your case at any time, day or night. We have attorneys available 24/7 so we can address your concerns whenever you are ready to talk. Call us today at 404.816.4440.