As a premier law firm with over 60 years of combined experience, we understand the complexities of DUI cases in the North Fulton County city of Alpharetta, Georgia. In this post, we will provide accurate and informative insights into DUI offenses (also known as “drunk driving”), the legal implications of first-time and repeat offenses, and the steps we would take to defend our clients. Additionally, we will discuss what to do if you're pulled over for a DUI, the tests conducted by the Alpharetta police department, and how we can help protect your rights and interests. The Georgia Code section addressing DUI is § 40-6-391.
Understanding DUI Offenses in Alpharetta
In Alpharetta, Georgia, driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense with severe legal consequences. DUI, also known as driving under the influence, pertains to the offense of operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs or any other substance that can influence a car’s driver. The drugs can be illegal drugs, prescription medication, or even over-the-counter medication, which anybody can purchase. Legally, impairment can arise from any of these sources.
The City of Alpharetta takes a proactive stance on DUIs to maintain road safety and protect its residents. So be very careful if you’re driving on roads like Old Milton Parkway or Windward Parkway, or simply visiting a restaurant or bar in downtown Alpharetta or at Avalon. Remember: Alpharetta police are aggressive. The prosecution team, led by Kelsie Mattox Speight, will attempt to present evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
First-Time DUI Offenses
For individuals facing their first DUI offense in Alpharetta, it's crucial to understand the potential legal and driver’s license consequences. It’s important to know DUI can cause a driver’s license suspension. Penalties can include fines, license suspension, mandatory DUI education programs, probation, and even jail time. While first time offenses can typically yield lesser punishments than repeat offenders, every case is different and has its own unique facts, and it is never known what the prosecution will decide based on the facts of a specific case. That’s why we need to speak to the DUI prosecutor on your behalf as soon as possible after an arrest. At the Sherman Law Group, we make it a priority that clients in this category understand all their options fully and lay out the steps to move forward.
Repeat DUI Offenses
Subsequent DUI offenses, of course, carry even more severe penalties under Georgia law. With each additional DUI offense, the penalties increase. If you are facing a second or subsequent DUI charge in Alpharetta, the stakes are higher, and the legal process can be more complex. Penalties may include increased jail time, enhanced fines, a longer license suspension, mandatory alcohol treatment programs, mandatory car ignition interlock devices, and potential felony charges.
Defending Against DUI Charges
When you choose the Sherman Law Group to defend your DUI case, we employ a comprehensive approach to protect your rights and interests. Our attorneys will carefully review all aspects of your case, including the traffic stop, field sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests, and any other evidence obtained. We will work diligently to identify potential flaws or violations of your constitutional rights, such as improper testing procedures, lack of probable cause, or mishandling of evidence.
What to Do If Pulled Over for a DUI
If you find yourself being pulled over for suspicion of a DUI in Alpharetta, it's essential to remain calm and remember your rights. Firstly, be polite and cooperative with law enforcement officers while avoiding self-incrimination. You want to look “sober.” You have the right to decline field sobriety tests but be aware that refusing a breath or chemical test may result in a license suspension. It is generally advised to consult with a DUI attorney before making any decisions, if possible.
Tests Conducted to Determine Impairment
The City of Alpharetta employs various tests to determine impairment during a DUI stop. These tests may include field sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests, and blood tests. Standardized field sobriety tests, which were developed by the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, assess physical and cognitive abilities, while breathalyzer tests calculate blood alcohol content. Blood tests provide a direct measure of alcohol or drug concentration.
In the state of Georgia, there are different types of DUI offenses that individuals can be charged with based on the facts and circumstances of their arrest. It's important to understand these distinctions to navigate the legal process effectively. Here are the different types of DUIs that can occur in Georgia, along with a brief description:
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence): This is the most common type of DUI charge throughout the state of Georgia. It applies when a person operates a motor vehicle while allegedly under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.
- DUI Per Se: In addition to the traditional DUI charge, Georgia has a DUI Per Se offense. This charge is based solely on a person's BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level being above the legal limit, regardless of whether their driving was actually impaired or not.
- DUI Less Safe: This type of DUI charge is based on the police officer's observations and subjective judgment that a driver is less safe to operate a vehicle due to the influence of alcohol or drugs. Georgia gives police a great deal of latitude to make these decisions. Even if a driver's BAC is below the legal limit, they can still be charged with DUI if they exhibit signs of impairment. A police officer, sheriff’s deputy, or state trooper may believe the person is on drugs and charge them with DUI Less Safe.
- DUI Drugs: Apart from alcohol-related DUI charges, Georgia law prohibits driving under the influence of drugs. This includes illegal substances, prescription medications, and even over-the-counter drugs (such as Benadryl, Allegra, cold or cough medication, Melatonin, Valerian, Dramamine, caffeine pills, diet pills, and CBD products) that impair the driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. Law enforcement officers may conduct blood or urine tests to detect the presence of drugs.
- Underage DUI: Georgia loudly proclaims it has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with DUI if their BAC is measured at 0.02% or higher.
- DUI with Child Endangerment: If a driver is arrested for DUI while transporting a passenger under the age of 14, they can face additional charges of DUI with child endangerment. This offense carries enhanced penalties due to the increased risk posed to the child.
It's essential to note that the penalties for DUI offenses in Georgia and in the city of Alpharetta can vary depending on factors such as BAC level, prior convictions, if there is a serious injury involved, and other aggravating circumstances. Working with an experienced DUI defense attorneys, like the Sherman Law Group, can help you understand the specific charges you're facing and build a strong defense strategy tailored to your exact situation.