Driving Habits That Could Lead to a DUI Arrest

Unless a police officer smells your breath as you drive by, he or she will have to rely on visual cues based on your driving behavior to determine whether you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most people know that fast, reckless driving can indicate DUI, but you may not know that some seemingly innocent driving habits can lead to a traffic stop and potentially a DUI arrest. If you’ve been drinking at all – even if you’re not over the legal limit of .08 – these driving behaviors can give police officers probable cause to stop and even arrest you.
should you take test after dui arrest

Improper Acceleration & Braking
We’ve all been in the car with a stop-and-go driver whose jerky braking nearly causes whiplash. It can be irritating, but it can also get you pulled over on suspicion of DUI. Drivers who have been drinking mimic the behavior of such a driver; braking too late or too soon, accelerating sharply for no apparent reason, and failing to maintain a reasonably constant rate of speed are all signs of DUI.

Carelessness
It happens to everyone: the driver in front of you suddenly begins slowing down, almost stopping, and then abruptly makes a turn. “Nice blinker,” you mutter. Or maybe you’re on the interstate, where most drivers are doing north of 70 mph, and see someone change lanes without signaling. It’s obviously dangerous, but failing to signal can also signal to cops that you may be under the influence. The same is true for forgetting to turn on headlights when it’s dark, raining, or foggy or taking longer than normal to respond to traffic signals, such as a light change from red to green.

Poor Judgment
Did you know that tailgating can be an indicator of impaired driving? It’s tempting to “ride” someone who’s driving more slowly than you’d like, but following too closely can get you pulled over on suspicion of DUI. Other examples of poor judgment include rapid and frequent lane changes, especially in dangerously narrow spaces, and turning too sharply, broadly, quickly, or slowly.

Failing to Maintain Lane Position
It’s critical to stay in your lane while driving for both your safety and the safety of other drivers. Failure to do so could result in a traffic stop and subsequent DUI charge. Weaving, straddling a line (a common practice among sober drivers in rural areas with very little traffic and road lighting), swerving, and drifting on a curve are just a few examples.
If you find yourself arrested and charged with DUI – no matter whether or how much you’ve been drinking – get in touch with an attorney with extensive experience in handling Georgia DUI cases. As an attorney with over 33 years of experience handling both DUI and traffic-law cases, I urge you to contact me, Mickey Roberts, and to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for all the latest in DUI news and laws.

Vehicular Homicide Continued: Misdemeanor, Feticide, & Serious Injury Crashes

Last month, I filled you in on the ins and outs of felony vehicular homicide. To recap, determining felony vehicular homicide depends largely on the traffic violations committed, including reckless driving, DUI, fleeing/eluding, and leaving the scene of the accident. Generally, if found guilty of felony vehicular homicide in Georgia, you can expect a punishment of 3 to 15 years in prison, though habitual violators can face up to 20 years.

As a seasoned traffic and DUI lawyer in Georgia, I have experience in defending cases involving other facets of vehicular homicide outside of felony, including misdemeanor, feticide, and serious injury crashes. All of these classifications have varying implications, but all involve a driver’s actions as the proximate cause of death or cause of serious injury. Vehicular homicide in the 2nd Degree is known as a misdemeanor. In Georgia, any person who causes the death of another person as a result of traffic violations other than the felony predicate offenses commits this offense.

For example, if you were to run a red light, crash into another car, and cause the death of another person, it would be classified as vehicular homicide in the 2nd Degree.  To be found guilty of misdemeanor vehicular homicide, the judge or jury is required to find that the person committed a traffic offense other than the felony vehicular homicide predicate offenses. Subsequently, it must be found that the person’s unlawful acts were the proximate cause of death. For this offense, you can be sentenced to a maximum of 12 months.

Another aspect of vehicular homicide is feticide by vehicle. The elements and punishment for felony feticide by vehicle are the same as felony vehicular homicide, with the same rule applying to misdemeanor vehicular homicide. Feticide by vehicle is defined as causing the death of an unborn child, at any stage of development that is carried in the womb, within a car crash.

Lastly, any person who brings about serious injury to another person as a result of reckless driving or DUI commits the offense of serious injury by vehicle. “Serious injury” is defined as “depriving a person of a member of his body, by rendering a member of his body useless, by seriously disfiguring his body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage, which renders the body or any member thereof useless.” In order to be found guilty of serious injury by vehicle, the judge or jury must find that the person committed either reckless driving or DUI. Subsequently, they must find that the person’s unlawful acts were the proximate cause of serious injury. This offense is a felony that comes with a sentence from one to 15 years in prison. If convicted of serious injury by vehicle, the person will face 3 years of driver’s license suspension, no work permit available.

Navigating the various facets of vehicular homicide and serious injury crashes can be daunting and often times confusing. If you find yourself in any of the situations described, I urge you to contact a professional to aid in your case. To contact a reputable lawyer in Georgia, contact me, Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for traffic law updates and news.

Why You Should Never Consent to a Search of Your Car

The 4th Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches of our bodies, homes and cars, among other things. There seems to be an epidemic of cases where police officers stop someone for a minor traffic violation, then pressures the driver into consenting to a search of their car.  Of course we only know of cases where drugs have been found; those are the cases we see in the appellate courts. Who knows how many times cops have searched vehicles and found nothing?

what to do if pulled over by police in Georgia

I am sure you have seen cars stopped by police while traveling on our expressways.  Because of my law practice, I pay particular attention when I see these instances; even though I may be traveling by at a fast speed, when I pass a stopped car and I see officers searching the car, I pay close attention. Many times, quite frankly, the drivers are either black or Hispanic.

No doubt these police officers are “profiling” drivers of color; they pull over the drivers on minor traffic offenses (or make one up), with the express intention of searching the car for drugs. This is the routine: cop pulls you over, say for speeding, takes your license, and after having checked on your license status comes back and asks if he/she can search the car for drugs. If you say “no,” the officer threatens you. The officer may ask you why you are exercising your rights, and ultimately will threaten to “bring the drug dog” if you will not give consent to a search.  Fortunately, the Georgia Appellate courts have sided with our Forefathers in upholding the 4th Amendment in these cases. In the past 12 months alone, the Georgia Appeals Courts have reversed 4 or 5 trial courts who have ruled these searches as legal. 

You might say, “Well I don’t carry illegal drugs in my car, so who cares?”  As a middle aged white male who doesn’t fit the profile of a drug courier, I really don’t have much expectation that a cop will ask if he can search my car.  But if you have children, and especially if you are black or Latino, the truth is that there is a high likelihood that at some point in time they will be stopped and will be asked to consent to a search.  

I recently won a motion to throw out such a search, where my 20 year old client was stopped for a brake light being out; she had not been drinking, nor was there any evidence which would have indicated she had any drugs in her car.  After 28 minutes of threats by the officer, who eventually called a drug dog, my client “consented” to a search.  A half pill of methadone was found in the car; this was a car that had been used by several members of her family, so in reality she did not know what was in her car.  Because the stop was for a brake light and because there was no probable cause to prolong the stop and ask for a search, the case was thrown out against my client.

In addition to DUI defense, I handle any case involving the stop of vehicles by police, including felony drug cases.  Hiring a qualified, knowledgeable DUI attorney can be very beneficial to winning your case.  If you are arrested for DUI or other serious traffic violations, contact me, Mickey Roberts, today. Also be sure to follow MrGaDUI on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more traffic law updates and news.

4 Rules to Live By if You Are Stopped by Police: A New Spin

You probably know by now that as an experienced DUI lawyer, I am an advocate for simple tips that can save you a lot of trouble if you are ever faced with an under-the-influence dilemma. Due to changing conditions in the law world, I’ve revamped my 4 Simple Rules to reflect the best behaviors you can practice in a traffic stop. Though nothing is ever simple when it comes to traffic stops, these rules are proven to help.

what to do if pulled over by police in Georgia

  1. Never admit to drinking or anything else. This rule has remained constant throughout the years. This does not mean deny drinking, it means do not admit or deny drinking or anything else. If you admit drinking, then he or she should ask you what you were drinking, how much, and when. You help an officer tremendously in proving you guilty of DUI when you admit to having multiple drinks, regardless of any other evidence that would tend to prove you were not impaired. 
  2. Do not submit to any roadside field sobriety evaluations.  Roadside tests are voluntary, but an officer doesn’t have to tell you as much. While he/she may show you how to do the evaluations, they never tell you exactly how they are “scoring.” If there is no video evidence, a cop can basically say anything in his report about how you performed on the evaluation. In fact, most DUI Task Force officers admit that they would not take the field sobriety tests if asked. Just say no.
  3. Invoke your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches. Though this only works in certain situations, you do have the right to refuse an unreasonable search.  There are current cases on appeal which involve the issue that a warrantless search of a person’s blood, breath, urine, so forth, may violate the 4th Amendment, and that the police can easily obtain a search warrant now, in a DUI case, for blood. Also, one should NEVER consent to a warrantless search of one’s car.
  4. If you take the State chemical test, always ask for an independent test of your “other bodily substance,” such as hair or saliva.  If you refuse to take the state chemical test, not only are you subject to losing your license for a full year with no permit, you may also have your blood drawn with the results being used against you. Once you do take the designated State tests, you are entitled to an independent test of your own choosing of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances (such as hair or saliva). This way, the burden shifts to the officer to reasonably accommodate your request or the State test cannot be used against you.

Regardless of the situation at hand, do your best to remain focused on not providing evidence that would tend to prove your guilt of DUI.  For more information, contact me, Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for Georgia law updates and news.

New Advice on Whether to “Take the Test” After DUI Arrest

For many years, I have advised people to “refuse” to take a State blood, breath or urine test after arrest if they thought they might register above the legal limit of .08.  Now, due to changing conditions, we must rethink that position.

Georgia law says that if you are arrested for DUI, you are “required” to take a test of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance. However, you do have the right to “refuse” to take such test(s). If you take the test(s), you have a right to an independent test of blood, breath, urine, or “other bodily substance.”

should you take test after dui arrest

The question of whether to take a state test after arrest has always been a troublesome one. On one hand, Georgia law says that when you “refuse” to take a test, your license could be suspended for a full year. That is known as an administrative license suspension (ALS) and must be initiated by the arresting officer.   So, if you could get past the license hearing, you had done yourself a favor by not providing the State with your blood alcohol level.

The problem is, we are seeing more and more cops showing up for the ALS hearing and insisting that our clients sign an agreement whereby the client agrees to plead guilty to the DUI, and the cop then agrees to withdraw any one year suspension.  These agreements, under a recent Georgia case, can now be admitted into evidence against you, if you decide to go back on the agreement and fight the DUI.

Georgia law says that if you refuse testing, then “NO TEST SHALL BE GIVEN.” However, the legislature changed the license law a few years ago to add that nothing in the law would prevent a police officer from “obtaining evidence by other means”.  Recently, some police agencies have started obtaining search warrants to forcibly draw a person’s blood if that person has refused to agree to a State breath or blood test. Not only that, but these officers are also seeking a one year license suspension even after obtaining the suspect’s blood!

While there are currently legal actions arguing that a person or driver’s rights are violated by these forced blood draws, we must take another look at our options when deciding whether to take the test or not.

If you refuse to take the test, not only are you subject to losing your license for a full year with no permit, you may also have your blood drawn, with the results able to be used against you.

Once you do take the designated State tests, you are entitled to an independent test of your own choosing of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances . Once you request an independent test of your choosing, the officer must “reasonably accommodate your request, or otherwise the State test cannot be used against you.  As I am not aware as to whether the State is capable of testing “other bodily substances” for blood alcohol level, you might consider requesting an independent test of a bodily substance other than blood, breath or urine.

I would suggest you specifically request a test of either hair or saliva. Then, the burden shifts to the officer to reasonably accommodate your request. For more information, contact me, Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for Georgia law updates and news.

What You Need to Know About Felony Vehicular Homicide in Georgia

More than any other traffic-related offense, vehicular homicide is an extremely upsetting experience sure to lead to times of confusion and despair.  Often a component of additional charges such as DUI or DWI, vehicular homicide is defined as when “a person, without malice aforethought, causes the death of another person through violation of certain offenses,” such as DUI.  As a seasoned traffic and DUI lawyer in Georgia, I’ve sadly seen quite a few of these cases over the years and can help clarify some of the essential points that distinguish one case from another. Vehicular homicide is usually charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In this blog, we’ll cover the basics for felony vehicular homicide.

case of the month

Vehicular homicide in the First Degree is a felony in Georgia depending on the traffic violations committed. Offenses include reckless driving, DUI, fleeing/eluding, and leaving the scene of accident.  The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed one of the aforementioned traffic offenses as well as find that your driving was the proximate cause of the death.  If you are found guilty of felony vehicular homicide, you can be sentenced from 3 to 15 years in prison as a consequence.  If you’re a habitual violator, you could face up to 20 years of jail time.

You can also expect a 3 year license suspension with no work permit available if you’re convicted of felony vehicular homicide, although more than likely you are going to be serving time in prison for the first 3 years anyway. 

There are various other facets in vehicular homicide, including misdemeanor, feticide, and serious injury crashes that will be covered in my next blog. To contact a reputable lawyer in Georgia, contact me, Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for traffic law updates and news.

Case of the Month: DUI with Drugs Involved Turns into a City Ordinance Violation

While marijuana laws are changing all over the United States, the facts remain unchanged in Georgia: have it in your possession or drive under the influence, and law enforcement will not be happy. For an example, let’s examine this edition of my Case of the Month series featuring underage DUI involving marijuana.

dui with drugs

An underage client of mine was stopped by a police officer for making an illegal left turn.  When the officer approached the car, he smelled the telltale odor of marijuana drifting from inside. My client admitted to smoking marijuana prior to being stopped with his girlfriend, a passenger in the car. 

After performing field sobriety evaluations, my client was arrested for DUI for being under the influence of marijuana. When the officer requested a urine test, my client consented.  The urine test came back positive for marijuana. Georgia law states that a person is guilty of a DUI if that person “drives a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana to the extent that person is rendered incapable of driving safely.”  Since marijuana is detectable in urine even a month after use, it is possible to be convicted of this type of DUI weeks after it was last used, if the State can prove, through physical appearance, driving, and field sobriety evaluations, that you were incapable of driving safely. This is part of what makes marijuana DUIs so tricky.

Because of my client’s age, even a plea to reckless driving would have resulted in a 6-month suspension. The key to a urine test is that by the time marijuana (or its inactive ingredient) gets into your urine, you are no longer under the influence of the effects of the marijuana.  In this case, I was able to resolve the case as follows: the DUI was reduced entirely, and the client pled to a city ordinance violation, which did not go on his driving record or on his criminal history.

There are hundreds of ways to win a DUI case, especially when you consult an experienced DUI and traffic lawyer in your area. We just need to be open and creative enough to find the way for each particular case. To contact a reputable lawyer in Georgia, contact me, Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for traffic law updates and news.

Essential Tips for Encouraging Safe Teen Driving

While your teen is likely thrilled to obtain their driver’s license for the first time, it’s important to take this time to educate them on safe driving. Studies from the National Safety Council show that the most dangerous time of a teen driver‘s life is the first 12 months of having their license. In fact, this risk increases in the summer for a number of reasons.  Find out why below along with tips to help you encourage safe driving.

Essential Tips for Encouraging Safe Teen Driving

Set boundaries and curfews despite the season. While the school year is full of activities and curfews, things tend to loosen up around summer, leading to less restriction and more time out late with friends. One negative factor is that teens get less sleep, leading to more driving when tired (which some studies indicate is equally as dangerous as driving drunk). According to AAA research, the chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles specifically for teens when driving at night, with more than half of nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Remind them of the importance of the speed limit. While speeding in the warm summer air is tempting, one-third of all yearly traffic deaths in the U.S. are associated with driving over the speed limit. Adjusting speed for the current conditions and assuming hazards that may not be detectable yet can reduce the chance of accidents. I recommend having your teen place an object on their wrist such as a rubber band or bracelet), or on the steering wheel to remind them to look at their speedometer on a regular basis!

Put away your phone. While many parents preach the dangers of texting and driving to their teens, it isn’t convincing when you continue to use your phone yourself. It really can wait! The increase in distracted driving cases has greatly increased alongside the rise in popularity of smartphones. A common consequence of distracted driving is drifting off the side of the road or out of your lane, which causes drivers to overcorrect and in the worst of cases, flip their cars.

Take three seconds to fasten your seatbelt. This is another case of leading by example and not downplaying the importance of a seatbelt at all times. In addition to avoiding a citation, using lap/shoulder belts decreases your risk of being killed or seriously injured in a crash 45 to 50 percent.

Be open to honesty. Though the legal drinking age in Georgia is 21, it’s not uncommon for some teenagers to bend the rules. Let them know that in the event of them going against the law and drinking, it’s better to simply call for a ride than to risk getting on the road. This can not only save them from the possibility of getting a costly underage DUI, but from hurting themselves or others. Being grounded is better than being in jail, or worse.

The crash risk for young drivers’ does not begin decreasing significantly until age 25. Do your part by reminding your teen to always be mindful of driving safely. To contact a reputable lawyer in Georgia, contact me, Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for traffic law updates and news.

5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a DUI Lawyer

It’s an understatement to say that being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) can be an overwhelming experience. Even in the first moments, you begin to consider what the next step should be.  According to Georgia DUI attorney Mickey Roberts, the logical next step is to find a great lawyer who can address your case effectively and professionally. Below, he provides five key points that should be brought up when selecting your DUI attorney.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Thoroughly learn the lawyer’s background and experience. Inquire about where they attended law school and their time of graduation, as well any membership in bar organizations and length of practice.
  1. Get a feel for their client base. How long has the lawyer been representing clients facing DUI? Is it their specialty, or just something done on the side? How many clients are represented each year?
  1. Their success is your business. Ask about their success rate within the court, and welcome feedback on your case so they can understand the charges and if they believe they can take you on as a client. If you’re satisfied with the amount of cases won, it’s a good indicator that this is a trustworthy lawyer for you.
  1. Assess your case. Lay out the details of your arrest and the charges you’re currently facing. Ask the lawyer what they would recommend in terms of a guilty plea or trial. Request for them to lay out the factors in your case that work in your favor or against you to determine how the DUI lawyer will aggressively defend you in court.
  1. Consider the cost. Yes, DUI arrests can be expensive. But think about the possible outcomes: you could lose your driver’s license, experience an increase in insurance premiums, DUI school, fines, and possible jail time. And of course it costs money to hire a lawyer.

After meeting with your potential attorney, evaluate. Consider what you heard about their experience, success rates, and applicable fees. Do your research. If you believe the attorney will fight hard for your case and value your triumph over your charges, hire them! To contact a reputable DUI in Georgia, call Mickey Roberts. Be sure to follow Mickey Roberts on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for traffic law updates and news.

Are You a First Time DUI Offender? Here’s What You Should Do Next

Your first DUI arrest can be an anxious time. You have just endured being arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail—probably not the fun time you imagined upon heading out for the night. If you are wondering what typically happens in your case, let Georgia DUI attorney Mickey Roberts lead you to the path of successfully dealing with DUIs when it’s your first time.

arrested for dui
First, it is important to hire an experienced DUI lawyer who has a reputation in the legal community as aggressively and successfully defending DUIs. It’s important to acquire a lawyer who also has long standing professional relationships with police officers, judges, and prosecutors.

When you were arrested for DUI, you should receive a citation for your DUI charges which will have your initial court date on it. You may also have received a “1205 form”, which is a 30 day permit to drive and is also notice that the State will try to suspend your license BEFORE your court date.

Once you have hired an experienced lawyer, a “10 day” letter will be sent to Driver’s Services immediately, which will keep your license valid past the first 30 day period. Additionally, an “open records request” to the State will be sent, requesting all of the evidence they have that relates to your case. Once the evidence is received, a report which outlines any possible defenses and the recommendations on how to proceed with your case will be sent. The initial goal of your lawyer is to look for any possible means to win your case, giving you enough information upon which you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

At some point in time you’ll be given several options, which will include pleading guilty, pleading to a “lesser offense”, or fighting your case with either a bench or jury trial.  Mickey Roberts can help you make a decision by also providing you with information relative to license suspension, possible sentence and possible ramifications with changes to your driving record and license, insurance, employment loss.

Not only can hiring a qualified, knowledgeable DUI attorney be beneficial to winning your case, it can also make the process less confusing. If you are arrested for DUI or other serious traffic matters, contact MrGaDUI today. Also be sure to follow Mickey Roberts on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more traffic law updates and news.