By: William C. Head, Criminal Defense Attorney Atlanta GA and ABA Board-Certified DUI Attorney
Under most driving under the influence statutes (across America) it is illegal to drive a vehicle while “under the influence” of alcohol or other any other intoxicating substance or drug. However, state DUI-DWI laws in each state specify the degree of physical or mental impairment required for a person to be too impaired to drive. Descriptions of impairment “in any degree,” “to the slightest degree,” “in some degree” and “to an appreciable extent” have each been held sufficient to render a person “under the influence.”
Georgia DUI law uses the phrase “less safe to drive,” in describing the crime committed by an impaired motorist charged with a drunk driving offense in Georgia. In GA, this phrase can apply to DUI-alcohol or DUI-drugs. So, DUI less safe Georgia is the general DUI crime, when no forensic breath test result or blood quantitation is part of the prosecution evidence. When discussing “less safe DUI,” the addition of the word “Georgia” is not necessary, since other states have different wording such as those set forth above, or “incapable of driving safely,” which requires a higher level of proof by a Prosecutor.
Impairment of one’s ability or mental or physical capacity to operate a motor vehicle is usually linked to an impairment of the person’s normal senses, judgment, and motor skills, although proof of actual erratic or unsafe driving is not required to be proven in Georgia or most other states.
The less safe DUI alcohol case may turn on all or parts of these 17 categories of potential incriminatory “evidence,” as routinely collected by law enforcement personnel before the pullover, during field sobriety testing, possibly during breathalyzer tests at a police station, during booking at the jail, during blood collection at a hospital or other location:
How can I estimate my chances to beat a DUI less safe case in Georgia, when the standard of proof is so nebulous?
The truth is that most accused citizens are poor judges of their chances to win a DUI case.
Virtually 100% have never watched a DUI trial, nor know the intricacies of GA DUI law, or have been the accused person in a DUI prosecution. Plus, a non-lawyer will have no knowledge about how to exclude field sobriety test evidence, or a breath alcohol test, based upon various legal issues surrounding these sobriety tests.
These factors can make a HUGE difference in any DUI case, and a seasoned, experienced DUI attorney can assess the chances of success to a reasonable degree of certainty, once he or she knows all the State’s evidence.
When a person faces a DUI alcohol less safe case in Georgia, the decision about whether the accused driver has been proven to be a less safe driver is up to the “trier of fact.” This is either a jury, or a judge (if the accused citizen or his or her DUI lawyer) opt to submit the guilt-innocence phase of the DUI case to a judge sitting without a jury.
Because tens of thousands of Georgia DUI arrests begin their criminal court journey in a municipal court in Georgia, which is one of several non-jury, entry-level courts, the major factor is deciding on a “judge trial” over a trial by jury is the judge’s reputation for fairness and being even-handed. Because the municipal court judge assigned to hear the DUI case is appointed in all municipal courts except one, some judges make their rulings based on retaining their appointment by the mayor, the city manager, or by the mayor and city council.
When would a bench trial (judge only trial) of my DUI GA be to my advantage?
In his 40 years of trials, William Head and both of his law partners have opted for hundreds of “bench trials” in their clients’ DUI GA cases, where the Judge alone decides the accused’s guilt or innocence. A few of these successful high-profile criminal law cases (both DUI and non-DUI) have been broadcast on Atlanta news reports. An experienced DUI attorney knows each court, and the tendencies of each judge, so that the move is always “calculated” to offer an equal or better chance of acquittal, than a jury trial.
The fact is that the person facing DUI less safe charges MUST rely upon his or her DUI lawyer to help make this decision, and the rule in Georgia is that the CLIENT always gets the last word, for having a jury trial or selecting a bench trial. When in doubt about the fairness or track record of a particular trial judge, Mr. Head and his partners ALWAYS opt for a jury trial, since the decision of the jury panel has to be unanimous.
For both strategic issues or practical issues a skilled and experienced DUI attorney will selectively opt for a bench trial, for a client facing DUI in Georgia. A few of those good reasons would be:
Some people foolishly try to self-assess their chances of winning the DUI in GA. The operable word here is “FOOLISHLY.” Just reading TRUE DUI case histories with: (1) BAC levels triple the alcohol legal limit, or (2) with a DUI refusal and failing all three NHTSA field sobriety tests, or (3) another drunk driving case report of a DUI checkpoint with a Intoxilyzer breath test double the legal alcohol limit, from two of our previous criminal trials will dissuade you from thinking that you have no chance to beat a DUI in court.
After being arrested for DUI in GA, some people are so depressed that they dwell on their mistake the night before, and not on beating the criminal charges. Fear of the unknown can be a powerful enemy. Our DUI lawyer partners WELCOME comparing criminal attorney comparisons. For example, our law firm has three different law book authors, which is unique in Georgia and possibly in all of America.
A successful defense record for all Atlanta DUI attorneys in the law firm must include possessing the ability to neutralize field sobriety test evidence and finding ways to eliminate breath alcohol test results, especially where the “number” is in excess of the legal alcohol limit. Plus, know the LAW is critical, and this entails our DUI attorneys being familiar with every prior appellate decision on Georgia DUI laws and especially the Georgia implied consent law.
Drugged driving cases have grown by 100% in the last 15 years. Sleep driving DUI cases, after taking prescribed medications for insomnia or pain management are up by 400%. Plus, a conviction for DUI-drugs has more devastating DUI penalties in Georgia that a DUI-alcohol case, due to more severe loss of driving privileges and other loss of entitlements (e.g., loss of the GA Hope Scholarship due to a “drugs” conviction).
Each DUI attorney in our law office possesses special training on debunking “drug recognition” officers’ training and roadside tests like the “modified Romberg test” and the less-extensive ARIDE protocols require that our criminal defense lawyers know how to challenge a GBI blood alcohol or drugs test. Each of our Atlanta lawyers are an INSTRUCTOR in the three NHTSA standardized field sobriety tests (SFST), which exceeds the training of most police officers making arrests for DUI in Georgia.
The best DUI lawyers in Atlanta, Georgia will offer you a FREE attorney consultation, explain how their criminal defense attorneys review your DUI case facts and implement a game plan for winning. Our three Georgia Super Lawyers aggressively represent clients accused of committing crimes through filing and arguing suppression motions. Limit your search to a lawyer for DUI who has achieved legitimate legal industry excellence attorney ratings, and who possesses a track record of proven drunk driving defense results on knowing how to beat a DUI. If our law firm has the RIGHT criminal defense attorney for you, ask our law office about our DUI attorney payment plans.
Call our DUI attorneys NOW, 24-7, for an initial criminal case review and to obtain FREE legal advice: 404-567-5515, or email our criminal justice lawyers.
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