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DUI: The cops found drugs

Question: I was at one of our corporate parties hosted by our CEO and when I was driving home I hit another car on Hammond Drive in Sandy Springs. Our CEO is a huge partier and he hired strippers from The Cheetah for the party and bought top-shelf booze. I was a little drunk.

It was really just a tap of the bumper but the lady said her neck hurt. I know she couldn't have been really hurt because she was walking around and talking to the police.

When the Sandy Springs police got there they looked in my car and on the passenger seat they saw a plastic baggy with some white powder in it. They asked me what it was and I said I didn't know. I said maybe a friend left in there or maybe one of the guys at the car wash who detailed my Ford Mustang left it there. The cop took the baggy. He said he was going to get it tested for drugs. He said it looked like coke.

I'm worried that if tests positive for cocaine (and it will, believe me) it can be used against me and that it will hurt my chances to beat the DUI charge. Please advise on my legal options.

L.D. in Sandy Springs, GA

Answer: Your question actually raises a number of issues. If in fact it is a baggy full of cocaine, then you may be facing a felony charge. But, as it relates to the DUI charge, it can have certain ramifications.

A Sandy Springs prosecutor is generally less likely to be agreeable to reducing a DUI to Reckless Driving if the motorist possesses cocaine or other illegal drugs. That's not to say it's impossible (we've done it on a number of occasions for clients), but it certainly makes matters more challenging.

Also, there is a charge of DUI-drugs that can be brought against a driver who is allegedly DUI because of drugs (either illegal drugs or prescription medication, like Ambien and other legal drugs).

A charge of DUI-drugs carries with it an enhanced driver's license suspension time. A DUI-drugs charge requires the Georgia Department of Driver Services to initiate a "hard" license suspension, meaning that you would be unable to get a work permit for a certain period of time.

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