Many adults go their whole lives without ever facing criminal charges. For those who do end up with a court date, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is probably the most common charge people face. It can be a difficult time. Friends and family may be disappointed. You yourself may be fearful. And frankly, DUI charges result in two parallel tracks in the court system, which can be confusing, even if you practice law. Without a law license, it is small wonder you may feel overwhelmed.
If you are facing DUI charges in Atlanta, Georgia, our DUI attorneys can offer you a general overview of what you may be facing, or why you may have been charged. However, there is, of course, no substitute for a free one on one consultation with an experienced DUI attorney. Every case is different. While this post can give you general guidance about DUIs in general, some of it may not apply to your specific DUI case.
Understanding What May Lead to DUI Charges
There are a variety of facts and circumstances that may lead to DUI charges. Because different conduct can lead to the same result, we offer a few examples to illustrate.
- A person has two drinks in one hour, then drives home. They do not handle their liquor very well, and even though their blood alcohol concentration is under the legal limit of 0.08, they are not able to drive their car in a safe manner. They are weaving between lanes, and the police stop the car. In speaking with the driver, it is apparent to the police that the driver cannot safely drive due to the alcohol they consumed.
- A person has six drinks in one hour, then drives home. Their blood alcohol concentration is over the legal limit of 0.08. The fail to stop at a stop sign, and the police pull the car over. The driver appears to be intoxicated and is asked to perform roadside tests, which he fails. At the station, he participates in testing that shows his blood alcohol concentration is 0.12.
- A person has several drinks at their home. Then they decide they want to play their favorite music loudly, however, the rest of the family is asleep. They go out into the driveway, get into their car, turn on the ignition, and play their favorite tunes through the car's speakers. The police approach the car, due to the excess noise. They observe a woman in the driver's seat, singing at the top of her lungs, and the keys in the ignition. They ask to speak with her, and it is immediately apparent that she is intoxicated. After asking her to perform some field sobriety tests, they take her to the station where she provides a breath sample over 0.08.
- A person consumes an illegal substance, a prescribed drug, or an over the counter medication, which renders them unable to drive safely. They drive anyway. After the driver crashes into the median, police ask the driver some questions. The driver is stumbling, slurring their words, and cannot get their insurance card out of their wallet. After some additional questioning, police ask for a blood draw. The test results reveal the presence of a substance which led the driver to be less safe.
- A person is driving relatively well, but with rush hour traffic, they get into an accident. The police see something that suggests to them the driver may be under the influence of some drug, or may be less safe because of some drug in their system. Tests reveal the presence of cocaine in the driver's bloodstream.
- Prior to driving, a person huffs paint, glue, or an aerosol in an attempt to get high. Police notice erratic driving conduct, including failing to use a blinker and frequent lane changes. After stopping the car, they notice the driver's pupils are abnormally small, and the driver has difficulty following simple directions or completing routine tasks. The driver admits to sniffing glue before driving.
Any of this conduct (and more) can lead to DUI charges.
Understanding the Consequences of DUI Charges
There are two sets of consequences in DUI cases. First, there are criminal consequences. Depending on whether one has prior DUI cases, and a few other facts and circumstances, such as whether there is a child under 14 in the car, for example, one may be facing either jail or prison time. There may also be a fine. The amount of the fine again depends on prior offenses and a few other facts and circumstances.
There are also civil consequences in DUI cases. The civil consequence of receiving a DUI charge can be the loss of your driving privileges for a period of time. Additionally, one may have to submit to ignition interlock for a period of time to establish they can be trusted to drive without drinking.
Because the criminal and civil systems are separate, there are two separate proceedings, although both take place in court. An experienced DUI attorney can help navigate both systems.
Are You Facing DUI Charges?
If you are facing DUI charges, you need experience on your side to help you navigate through both the criminal justice system and the civil system. We may be able to help you keep your license and get your criminal case dismissed or negotiated to a lesser charge. Every DUI case is different. The facts of each case dictate the likelihood of success on the merits. Contact us today for a free consultation at 404.816.4440. We take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We look forward to working with you.