A motion to suppress evidence is one of the many examples of how a Hall County DUI attorney can potentially help you. When faced with a DUI or other drug or alcohol-related charge, the prosecutor's case will rest heavily on the evidence gathered by the Hall County Sheriff's department, or another police service that conducted the stop. A defense attorney with years of experience may be able to find flaws in the evidence that is large enough to keep the evidence from being presented at court.
Examples from Real Cases in Georgia
Having flawed evidence suppressed can make a huge difference in the outcome of a case. Here are two real-world examples of cases where a defendant was able to successfully have all the evidence from the stop suppressed.
State v. Goodman, 220 Ga. App. 169 (1996)
In Jonesboro, Georgia, in 1995, an officer observed Robert Goodman turn left from a left-turn lane without signaling. The officer suspected Mr. Goodman was driving under the influence. After pulling Mr. Goodman over and conducting an investigation, the officer charged Mr. Goodman with a DUI, making an improper left turn, and having an open container of alcohol. The case made it all the way to the Georgia Court of Appeals which found that not using a signal to turn left from a left-turn-only lane was not enough of a reason for the officer to suspect intoxication. Because the arresting officer stopped Mr. Goodman without reasonable suspicion, all the evidence collected from that stop was unconstitutional and could not be used against Mr. Goodman.
Jones V. State 291 Ga. 35, 727 S.E.2d 456 (2012)
In 2009 in Coweta County, Georgia, a State Patrol trooper observed a vehicle abruptly turn into a parking lot, as if to avoid the roadblock where the trooper was stationed. As he drove into the parking lot to investigate, a truck, driven by Michael Jones, also pulled into the parking lot. Mr. Jones was not able to leave the parking lot because of the trooper's patrol vehicle and the first car blocked the exit. After letting the first driver go, the trooper spoke to Mr. Jones and smelled alcohol on his breath. Mr. Jones was convicted of driving under the influence. However, the Court of Appeals of Georgia found that there was no reasonable suspicion for the stop and, furthermore, an illegal seizure had taken place because the trooper blocked Mr. Jones from leaving the parking lot. Once again, all evidence gathered from the trooper's investigation had to be thrown out.
What Evidence Can be Suppressed?
Sometimes a violation is so clear that any average citizen who has little understanding of the criminal justice system can feel their rights were violated. But often, the flaws are something that only someone with advanced training and certification can spot.
Suppressing Evidence of Alcohol or Drugs in Blood Samples
A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .08 or chemical tests showing drugs in a defendant's blood is one of the strongest pieces of evidence the prosecutor has, and it goes a long way in determining the charges the prosecutor will seek.
However, an experienced DUI defense attorney might notice, for example, the laboratory that tested the sample didn't follow best practices or that the officer who drew the blood sample didn't follow correct procedures for preserving the same. The Lawson DUI defense team understand how to review the police and laboratory reports for anything that might have made the alcohol or drug finding inaccurate.
Suppressing Results from Field Sobriety Tests
If the blood evidence is suppressed, the prosecutor will likely still bring the case forward because the results of field sobriety tests are given heavy weight. Some of the tests are even considered scientific evidence in some jurisdictions. However, the tests are only valid if they are administered exactly according to the guidelines. That might be easy to do when an officer is being trained in a classroom but in real life situations out in the field, it's very difficult for an officer to say that all the steps have been followed to the letter.
A test that's not conducted correctly is not accurate and should not be considered as evidence. Our Hall County DUI defense attorneys have been certified to administer the field sobriety tests and know how to spot testing errors.
Warrantless Searches and Constitutional Rights
Like Mr. Jones and Mr. Goodman from the beginning of this article, every citizen of the United States is protected from governmental intrusion through illegal searches and seizures. A recent U.S. Supreme Court case known as Birchfield v. North Dakota established that officers cannot take a sample of someone's blood without either the person's consent or a warrant. If an officer makes a suspect feel that they have no choice to refuse a blood test, the officer is violating the suspect's rights.
How is Evidence Suppressed?
If a defendant and his or her attorney has found a flaw in the way a piece of evidence was gathered, the attorney will file what is known as a motion to suppress. That is lawyer-speak for a request that the judge throw out the evidence in question. The other side, the prosecutor, will have a chance to argue that the request should be denied.
If the judge agrees with the defense's reasoning, the evidence will be suppressed. This means the evidence cannot be shown to the judge or the jury at trial. It's not common for so much evidence to be suppressed that the prosecutor drops the charges but the defendant will likely have a better chance of a fair settlement or a not guilty verdict at trial.
Hall County DUI Defense
Don't trust your case to an inexperienced attorney. See how the Hall County DUI defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson can help your case today.