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Georgia Judge Blocks Field Sobriety Test

By William C. Head, Atlanta DUI Lawyer

DeKalb County judge blocks a key field sobriety test witness from testifying at less safe DUI trial – DeKalb DUI lawyer Bubba Head gets the Judge reversed by the Georgia Court of Appeals

An international financial investor was stopped for speeding in his Mercedes in DeKalb County GA. The officer smelled alcohol on the driver’s breath and requested field sobriety tests of him. The driver was unfamiliar with his absolute right to refuse all standardized field sobriety tests, and attempted to perform the requested roadside evaluations. Predictably, an arrest for DUI less safe (being too impaired to drive) was filed. The client refused to take the breathalyzer test at the DeKalb County jail, since he was already in cuffs and going to jail. After bonding out of the DeKalb jail, he hired DeKalb County DUI lawyer Bubba Head.

Mr. Head reviewed all evidence in the case, and learned that no videotape was made of the arrest. Plus, in checking the police officer’s background, Mr. Head discovered that the officer had very limited training on administering field sobriety tests after making a small number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol. So, a motion to exclude the three standardized field sobriety tests was filed, and was set down for a hearing just before the case was to be tried by a jury.

A pro hac vice judge (a fill-in DeKalb Magistrate’s Court judge) was sitting in for the elected DeKalb State Court Judge for the pre-trial motions and trial of this case. At a pre-trial motion hearing, DeKalb criminal defense lawyer William C. Head, sought to exclude improperly done field sobriety test evidence by having one of Georgia’s very best ex-police officers, Bill Taylor from Gainesville, GA, explain why the officer conducted the field tests incorrectly, according to the mandatory Georgia P.O.S.T. (peace officer standards and training council) training.

The judge heard the pre-trial motions, and denied all of the DeKalb DUI defense lawyer’s efforts to have the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus) test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test excluded. Mr. Taylor testified at this motion hearing.

The jury was selected, and trial began. Mr. Head cross-examined the DeKalb police officer about his methodology for administering the field sobriety test “battery” established by NHTSA. What the jury heard was setting up Mr. Taylor to come in on the defense case later, to explain that the officer did everything incorrectly, and not in accordance with NHTSA training.

When DeKalb criminal attorney Bubba Head tried to refute (using Mr. Taylor’s expert testimony) the police officer’s methods of administering each sobriety test, the judge sustained the prosecutor’s objections, thereby effectively blocking the sole defense witness from testifying on behalf of Mr. Head’s client. Mr. Head perfected the court record by making a “proffer” of what Mr. Taylor WOULD HAVE told the jury, and then immediately appealed after the jury returned a guilty verdict.

On appeal, Mr. Head convinced the appellate court of the fill-in judge’s error, and the conviction was vacated. The DUI conviction was set aside. Mr. Head’s client did not have to go through a new trial, and Mr. Head later had the DeKalb County DUI charge dropped entirely. The client entered a plea on a lesser offense, thereby saving his license and his job.

This appeal, which was reported and is part of Georgia DUI laws, is one of the most important DUI appeals in the area of field sobriety test evidence, and the right of an accused defendant, facing DUI less safe (driving under the influence of alcohol) charges to fully challenge and seek to use expert witnesses to challenge bogus field sobriety tests.

Call 41-year veteran Atlanta DUI attorney Bubba Head today and get honest answers to all your questions. Tell us everything that happened and everything you remember about your DUI arrest. The sooner you call us, the better chance we have to win your DUI case and get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Remember, you only have 30 DAYS to file a license suspension appeal or apply for an ignition interlock device, or your driver’s license will be suspended for up to one year! Talk to Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, or Cory Yager now. We are available 24 hours a day, weekends, and all major holidays. (404) 567-5515

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