DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
At The Gage Law Firm, we understand the dramatic impact a DUI can have on your life. The potential consequences of fines, driver's license suspensions, and even incarceration can have a severe effect on you, your family, and your career. We can help lessen or, in many cases, eliminate these negative impacts and get you back on your feet.
DUIs often require swift action to fully protect your rights, most importantly preserving your driving privileges. In many cases, legal steps must be taken within the first 10 days of your citation and/or arrest on a DUI, or these driving privileges may be lost for some time. At The Gage Law Firm, it takes only a brief consultation for us to take immediate action on your behalf and to make sure that your ability to drive is kept safe while your case is being litigated.
The Gage Law Firm will work immediately to:
Protect your driving privileges
Fight illegally obtained evidence
Attack poorly conducted scientific testing
Investigate options which might protect your record and ability to drive
Thoroughly prepare the case for a potential trial
Answer any and all questions our clients may have about the practical impacts of a DUI
You should always hire an attorney qualified to handle your DUI case. The Gage Law Firm has years of experience litigating and trying DUI cases. Here are some things to consider as you search for a lawyer:
Driver's License Considerations and the 30-Day Window
A DUI in Georgia brings as a consequence two types of driver's license suspension: an administrative suspension which is triggered by your arrest for DUI (but prior to any finding of guilt) and a statutory suspension that is only triggered by a guilty plea to the DUI or a finding of guilt by a judge or jury to the DUI charge. We can discuss the differences between these two types of suspension thoroughly during your consultation.
You'll read on almost every DUI website that you have 30 days from the point of your arrest to preserve your driving privileges. While it is true that an appeal of an administrative license suspension must be filed within this time period, it's not always a complete loss if you haven't, and in many cases the law allows for a much easier and straightforward way to reinstate your driving privileges while your case is litigated.
O.C.G.A. §40-5-67.2 et al. allows a fairly clear procedure for reinstating your license if this is your first DUI arrest in 10 years, AND you agreed to a test of your blood alcohol concentration (B.A.C.) at the jail facility. During the first 30 days after your arrest, you may drive on the citation issued to you when you were arrested (called the 1205 form). After this form expires, the Department of Driver's Services (DDS) allows for a 30-day temporary work permit upon payment of $25.00, which allows you to drive to and from work or school, or for medical reasons. If, during this time period, you also take a defensive driving/risk reduction course (approximately $292.00 in Georgia), you are eligible for reinstatement of your driving privileges upon expiration of the temporary work permit.
If an appeal of your administrative suspension is necessary, The Gage Law Firm can handle both the appeal and resulting administrative hearing, where negotiation with the arresting officer can in some instances result in a lifting of the suspension, or an evidentiary hearing, whereby we challenge the procedures used by police in obtaining their evidence, may result in a finding that the suspension was unlawful. Because the circumstances affecting your license can vary greatly, it is important to sit down with your attorney AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to discuss the appropriate strategy before deadlines pass.
Effective January 1, 2013, a new Georgia law made significant changes to statutory license suspensions as well as the nature of temporary work permits. These changes to the law allow repeat DUI offenders flexibility in obtaining a license to drive for purposes of employment in exchange for participation in an addiction treatment program. On the downside are restrictions to temporary work permits, which omit previous language that allowed for travel relating to employment, and now allow only for travel to and from a place of employment. These changes have not been interpreted clearly since their enactment, and there might be room to argue that the permits still apply to work that involves travel to different work sites.
Field Sobriety and Blood Alcohol Concentration Testing
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE! Officers will almost always try to have you perform field sobriety tests and on-sight breath tests after stopping you, as well as blood alcohol tests after your arrest. You may refuse to take part in any of these tests, and it is often in your best interest to do so. These tests are based on challengeable science, and oftentimes the officers conducting the tests are unfamiliar with the methods of conducting them, resulting in inaccurate and, in many cases, completely false results.
The Gage Law Firm has years of experience in DUI litigation and challenging these questionable DUI tests, and you can rest assured that we will battle any supposed scientific evidence of your intoxication the police may try to use against you.
Field sobriety testing (FST) is done at the scene of the traffic stop and can include a variety of supposedly telling procedures. Police officers receive training for this testing, but that rarely translates into knowledge when performing the actual tests, leaving open the possibility that such evidence may never be introduced at a trial. Officers will often conduct:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) testing--Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking or bouncing of the eyeball that occurs when there is a disturbance of the vestibular (inner ear) system or the oculomotor control of the eye. Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) refers to a lateral or horizontal jerking when the eye gazes to the side. In the impaired driving context, alcohol consumption or consumption of certain other central nervous system depressants, inhalants or phencyclidine, hinders the ability of the brain to correctly control eye muscles, therefore causing the jerk or bounce associated with HGN. You may remember this test as one during which a pen is slowly moved in front of a suspect's face to track movement in the eye that supposedly indicates intoxication; it is a very scientifically sensitive test and requires a strong understanding of the procedures to be properly conducted.
"Walk-and-turn" test--These tests are greatly affected by a person's natural equilibrium and any conditions which might compromise a person's balance, even under normal circumstances.
"One-leg-stand test"--Again, this is an exercise most people find difficult performing completely sober.
Portable breath tests of B.A.C.--These tests are only admissible in court as a positive or negative indication of alcohol in an individual's system; the actual number is NOT admissible.
Any and all of these tests are challengeable, either by the method they were performed, or by challenging the officer's reasons for stopping you in the first place. Don't be discouraged if you feel there is a mountain of bad evidence facing you because of these FSTs. There may very well be ways to keep it from being used against you.
The Breathalyzer is the most common tool used by law enforcement to test for blood alcohol concentration of the arrestee. Unlike the portable breath testing, the numbers generated by this machine are admissible in court, but only if several procedures were properly followed. First, a person must have been arrested for DUI and read Georgia's Implied Consent language before he or she can be asked to submit to such testing. Implied Consent essentially informs an arrestee that his or her license will be suspended if a BAC test is refused. So, before you even get to the Breathalyzer, the officer must:
Have reasonable suspicion to pull you over
Have probable cause to arrest you for DUI
Actually have executed the arrest
Read you Implied Consent properly (an improper reading may render the test inadmissible), and
Honor your choice of testing method
Any deviation from these requirements may give you an opportunity to challenge the admission of any BAC results that came from the Breathalyzer or other testing method. Furthermore, the person operating the machine must be trained to do so, the machine must be properly calibrated, and the two results must fall between an acceptable range of deviation. Also, other circumstances, including medical conditions and certain medications, might affect the reported results. As you can see, there are multiple avenues to potentially challenge this form of BAC testing.
Motions, Negotiations, and Trial
An important part of litigating a DUI involves the filing of proper motions to suppress evidence, or to keep it from being used against you in a trial setting. As discussed above, such motions can be used to negate blood alcohol concentration (BAC) results or your refusal to submit to such testing, field sobriety tests that may have been performed, or, in some cases, the entire basis for the charges because of an unconstitutional stop. While a lay citizen can certainly file these motions, a lawyer trained in DUI defense understands the intricate nature of the laws and the constitutional protections you are afforded, as well as the deadlines to preserve these issues. Because many cases hinge on the admissibility of evidence, having an attorney who knows the statutes and case law can have a dramatic impact on your case result. The Gage Law Firm has practiced in this field for almost a decade, and has expansive experience litigating these motions.
Prosecutors are always evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, and having a lawyer who can point out the deficiencies in a case, whether based on constitutional violations, contradictory evidence or witness credibility, can be invaluable. In many cases, the right negotiator may be able to work out potential resolution with a prosecutor that would result in a lesser charge and, consequently, much more bearable life consequences in exchange for resolving the case prior to a trial. Furthermore, you may be able to avoid the inherent risks that come with a trial by negotiating a resolution you can live with.
In some cases, though, trial is the most desirable path. The Gage Law Firm has been practicing trial law for almost a decade, and Derek has appeared before the court hundreds of times, including many jury and bench trials. While we hard to build relationships with prosecutors that result in positive outcomes for our clients, we recognize that the only way to win before a jury is to thoroughly prepare, know the case inside and out, and present our defenses to the jury with passion and confidence. If trial is the answer, we will fight to get the not guilty verdict you need to move on with your life.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a growing concern in Georgia, especially during difficult economic times when strapped finances can bring emotional and psychological strain. In cases of drug addiction, there may be opportunities to avoid extensive criminal liability by participating in court-sanctioned programs to fight your addiction. The Gage Law Firm has extensive experience in guiding clients with addiction and may be able not only to provide protection from severe criminal liability, but also a way through a life of drugs and alcohol dependence.
Now is the time to take charge if your addiction lands you in the criminal justice system. Georgia has enacted sweeping changes in the law that promotes treatment courts and rehabilitative efforts over jail time.
The Gage Law Firm has spent years as an advocate for rehabilitation of criminal offenders whose acts are rooted in drug and/or alcohol addiction, rather than sanctioning them with incarceration. As a former team member of both DeKalb County's Drug Court and DUI Court for many years, our firm has an understanding of addiction and the toll it takes on an individual. Derek has intimate experience working with judges, prosecutors, and treatment staff within the structure of the treatment courts and has traveled across the country to seminars promoting these programs.
The Gage Law Firm is equipped to advocate for potentially dramatic mitigation that comes with one's acceptance of his or her addiction and a willingness to fight it. If you are struggling with addiction and charged with a DUI, we can consult with you for free on how you might be able to take advantage of court-sanctioned programs that allow for you to fight your drug and/or alcohol addictions within the context of your criminal charges, potentially resulting in considerably reduced sanctions and a life free of drugs and alcohol.
Call or submit a web request today and we can discuss your case in detail and the positive outcomes that may very well be available to you.