Driving under the influence (DUI) means one thing: intoxicated driving.
Intoxication may be the result of alcohol or another chemical substance (e.g., marijuana) or both. To be a criminal offense in Georgia, your blood alcohol content must be at or above the legal limit (0.08 grams), or you have a legal or illegal chemical substance in your system that impairs your driving abilities (this is called "DUI less safe").
In Gainesville, Georgia, there are many arrests made daily for DUI. Those arrested are often people like you and me: law-abiding citizens. At Brett Willis Law, we work hard to help you beat a DUI charge. Contact us at (770) 249-4405 to learn more about how we will help you. Or, send us a quick, confidential message here.
In the meantime, here are some of the most commonly asked questions we get from our clients when we first meet them about their Gainesville DUI charges.
What is “blood alcohol content” level?
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol found in the blood expressed as a percentage. It is calculated in grams per 210 liters of breath, and a BAC of 0.08 means there is 0.08% alcohol by volume. Measuring BAC is a way for law enforcement to calculate the amount of alcohol someone has had and their ability to drive a motor vehicle.
What are my rights during DUI traffic stops?
If you are pulled over due to suspicion of drunk driving or pulled over for a traffic stop and then the police officer suspects intoxicated driving, you should remember you have certain rights as a U.S. citizen. Namely,
- The driver and any passengers have the right to remain silent (except you must show the police your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance upon request); and
- If you are a passenger, you are free to leave.
If you are arrested or detained, you have additional rights, including Miranda warnings.
- You can say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately.
- You have the right to make a local phone call.
If you believe your rights were violated in any way, try to write down everything you remember, including the police officer's agency (state police, county police, etc.), badge number, and patrol car number.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer test in Gainesville, Georgia?
You can refuse a breathalyzer test. These are portable instruments police have with them to test your breath for alcohol. The results of these tests are not admissible if you are, in fact, arrested and charged with an intoxicated driving offense.
Refusal, however, carries with it significant consequences. Those consequences are: your Georgia driver's license will be suspended for one year. However, you have thirty (30) days to challenge this suspension. This is where we can help. Call us now to save your driver's license. This is absolutely critical. Do not let the 30 days run out on you.
What are standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs)?
Standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs) are tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests are allegedly designed to help police determine whether a driver is intoxicated or not.
There are three standardized FSTs:
- the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN test)
- the One-Leg Stand Test (OLS test)
- the Walk-and-Turn Test
The results of these tests may be used as evidence against you in an intoxicated driving case. Non-standardized tests, on the other hand, are not validated by NHTSA and may not admissible as evidence.
Non-standardized FSTs include:
- finger to nose test
- the finger count test
- the hand pat test
- the alphabet test
- the reverse counting test
- the coin pickup test
Can I refuse field sobriety tests in Georgia?
Absolutely, yes. In fact, you should always refuse to do field sobriety tests.
After a DUI arrest in Gainesville, will my driver's license be suspended or revoked?
There are two different types of suspensions. The first is an administrative suspension, Georgia law permits the officer to suspend your license if you refuse a breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test (or if consent to the breathalyzer and have a BAC over a certain level). This means you can lose your driving privileges even when you have not been found guilty of driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a chemical substance. This is where you absolutely must call us prior to 30 calendar days from your arrest. We can, and will, challenge this suspension in court -- all with the goal of saving your ability to drive.
The other type of suspension occurs when you are convicted of an intoxicated driving offense. For your first offense (within the past 5 years), if you are over 21 years of age, the suspension lasts 120 days but you are eligible for a "work permit." For your second offense, your driver's license will be suspended for 18 months. You are eligible for a work permit after 120 days (but an ignition interlock device must be installed for 12 months).
What if I have a CDL (Commercial Driver's License) and I refuse to take the breath test or breathalyzer?
This is a somewhat complicated answer. See our page here, which addresses this issue in detail.
What happens after a drunk driving arrest in Gainesville, Georgia?
If you are arrested for drunk driving, what happens next depends on the facts and circumstances. Your case may go to the Gainesville Municipal Court, Flowery Branch Municipal Court, or the Oakwood Municipal Court first, although some cases go directly to the Hall County State Court. You can determine where your case is going first by looking at your DUI citation. About halfway down on the citation you will see where your case is going first (and on what date and time). If you cannot locate this on your citation, call us immediately at (770) 249-4405 and we will help you locate this information.
Can I beat a drunk driving charge in Gainesville, Georgia?
Absolutely yes. We have an incredible record of doing just that.
It is possible to beat a drunk driving charge, although it is not typically an easy process. It will require a thorough understanding of the law and a thorough understanding of the technical nature of field sobriety tests, breath tests, blood tests, and urine tests. Understanding the latter tests is critical to identifying errors (technical or human-made errors) to highlight the unreliability of the results.
Aside from errors or unreliable test results, an alleged DUI offender may have had their constitutional rights violated. This happens more often than you might imagine. A violation can lead to the inadmissibility of some or all evidence. Without sufficient evidence, the case will be dismissed, or a jury may return with an acquittal.
You will need a drunk driving defense attorney to help you beat an intoxicated driving charge. These cases can be highly technical, as much as legally complex.
Can I just plead guilty to drunk driving?
An arraignment is a hearing where the defendant can plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. You can plead guilty, but the real question is whether you should or not. It would be a mistake to plead guilty at this time, especially without the counsel of a drunk driving lawyer in Gainesville, and there are multiple reasons for this.
- If you plead guilty immediately, you lose any opportunity to fight the DUI charge.
- If you plead guilty immediately, you also lose any opportunity for a plea deal, if that is what would be best in your unique circumstances.
- The sentencing is often harsher when given in response to a plea of guilty during the arraignment, as opposed to what a plea deal would entail or a sentencing after a conviction would impose. The reason is simple: you have time to mitigate and negotiate.
If it's your first drunk driving charge, it can be tempting to plead guilty right away so that you can get the case over faster and get on with your life. But if you do not fight to get the charge dismissed or reduced, you will have your first drunk driving charge. With the latter on your record, you want to keep in mind that subsequent DUI convictions will assuredly lead to harsher penalties.
Do I need a drunk driving lawyer in Georgia to win my DUI case?
If you plan to fight your drunk driving charges, it is in your best interest to have an attorney represent you. The law can be complex. The evidence can be highly technical and scientific. Police and state expert testimony can be damaging. All these things can lead to a conviction, unless you have the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully counter them.
At Brett Willis Law, we know the law and the technical, scientific make-up of field sobriety tests, blood tests, breath tests, and urine tests. We also know how to identify and proactively address any constitutional rights violations to benefit your case. Contact our us at our downtown Gainesville office today at (770) 249-4405. The consultation is totally free. Or, send us a quick, 100% confidential message here, and we'll get right back to you.