Anyone considering pleading guilty to Georgia DUI charges should strongly reconsider. Some people believe a quick guilty plea will get the whole embarrassing ordeal over and done with much more quickly than fighting the charges. In truth, pleading guilty to DUI can result in many unintended consequences, some of which can last for a very long time. In the end, those who don’t fight their DUI charges absolutely cannot win. Even if a Georgia DUI attorney is only able to have the DUI charges or penalties reduced, the results will nevertheless be much more positive than those associated with a guilty plea.
The Cost of Pleading Guilty to a Georgia DUI
The outcome of pleading guilty to a Georgia DUI is a conviction. A conviction for a first DUI could lead to a minimum of ten days in jail (all but 24 hours may be probated), to a maximum sentence of a year in jail. Other criminal penalties may include:
- Fines from $300-$1,000;
- Surcharges and court costs;
- Possible sentence of attendance at an alcohol abuse treatment center;
- Suspension of driver’s license, potentially as long as one year;
- Possible sentence of attendance at a driver education program, and
- Community service.
There are consequences in addition to the Georgia criminal penalties, including:
- Huge jumps in auto insurance premiums;
- Termination of employment;
- An inability to obtain employment;
- The inability to obtain a government student loan for college;
- Possible towing charges for the vehicle;
- License reinstatement fees;
- The inability to obtain a professional license, and
- The social stigma attached to a DUI conviction.
It is important to remember a DUI conviction is a final conviction whether for a first, second, third or subsequent DUI. The conviction becomes a part of the permanent criminal record, which cannot be erased or expunged. This, together with the above consequences of a DUI conviction, should definitely make a driver think twice about pleading guilty to DUI charges.
How to Fight Georgia DUI Charges
There are any number of ways an experienced Georgia DUI attorney can choose to fight DUI charges. The attorney will obtain as much information as possible from the person charged with DUI, then will use specialized resources to determine if everything was done “by the book,” and whether all the details of the arrest are accurate and legal. Beginning from the time the initial stop occurred, a knowledgeable Georgia DUI attorney will look for suppression issues and develop a strategy to ensure all bases are fully covered. Some of the potential defenses for a Georgia DUI include:
- Challenges to initial stop. The police officer must have had reasonable suspicion that the driver violated a criminal or traffic law.
- The field sobriety tests were inaccurate. Standardized field sobriety tests are not designed for those with certain medical conditions, back or neck injuries, middle ear issues, those who are elderly, overweight, wearing heels, or those taking certain prescription drugs. In fact, there is little correlation between poor performance on field sobriety tests and alcohol impairment.
- Inaccurate breathalyzer test results. As with field sobriety tests, breathalyzer accuracy can depend on radio frequency interference, uneven alcohol distribution in the blood, residual mouth alcohol, dental problems, alcohol vapor in asthma inhalers or the alcohol in mouthwash or breath strips.
- The officer who administered the breath test was not certified or did not possess a valid, unexpired operator’s license.
- No observation period prior to administration of the breathalyzer test. Those suspected of DUI must be monitored for a minimum of twenty minutes prior to taking a breath sample.
- Failure to properly calibrate the breathalyzer machine. The Intoxilyzer 5000, often used in the state of Georgia, is required to be calibrated each quarter. Failure to inspect and calibrate the machine could negate the results.
- Inaccurate hospital blood tests. In some cases the collection or testing of a blood sample was not done according to accepted standards. Short cuts may have been taken which caused the blood test results to be questionable. Further, hospital blood tests are designed for diagnostic purposes and do not meet forensic guidelines required in a criminal trial.
- The arresting officer had a prior disciplinary record which could affect his or her believability in court.
- The person charged with DUI hasspecific health problems which could affect both field sobriety tests and BAC tests.
- Insufficient cause to arrest; proving a suspect consumed alcohol is not sufficient to justify a DUI arrest. Probable cause of impaired driving ability must be present.
Getting the Experienced Legal Help You Need for Your Georgia DUI Charges
Now that you know why you should fight your Georgia DUI charges, and how such a fight may be accomplished, you should ask yourself what you can do to maximize your chances of a positive outcome. Hiring an experienced, highly skilled Georgia DUI attorney as soon as possible after you are charged with a DUI, is a crucial first step. DUI attorney Melanie Ellwanger will never make a snap judgment about your case. She will not assume you are guilty, that you should take a plea, or that the case should not go to trial.
Instead, Melanie will carefully evaluate the facts of your specific case before deciding the best way to proceed, working hard to build the strongest case possible. As a former prosecutor, Melanie Ellwanger has excellent insights on how the prosecutor will view your case, and will explore every potential defense which could be used in your case. Never plead guilty to DUI charges. Instead, call Georgia DUI attorney Melanie Ellwanger at 404-803-3105.