Justin Mallory spent a month in Fulton County jail because incense and baking items in his car tested positive for meth. By the time he was granted bond, he’d been evicted from his apartment, his truck had been repossessed, and his fish and turtles had died. Everything he’d worked for in his life was gone.
Two months later, the crime lab finally returned the final test results. No controlled substances were found. Although the charges were dropped, the inaccurate results of the field test severely impacted his life.
DUI Arrests and Implied Consent
In Georgia, you can be charged with a DUI if the officer pulling you over thinks you are under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. You are considered “under the influence” if the officer feels it is unsafe for you to drive. And you can be prosecuted whether or not you submit to a drug test if there is any evidence of impairment. This includes slurred speech, erratic driving, failing a field sobriety test, and/or the presence of drugs in your vehicle. The perceived presence of drugs in Mallory’s vehicle is what led to his arrest.
Georgia is an “implied consent” state, which means that if you are driving on a Georgia road, you are essentially consenting to a breath alcohol test if one is requested. If you are pulled over, the officer must read the implied consent notice, and you are not allowed to consult a DUI lawyer before making your decision. If you don’t consent to a breath alcohol test, your license can be suspended for up to a year for a first-time offense.
If you refuse:
- The arresting officer will file a DDS-1205 form with the Georgia Department of Driver Services, which starts the process of your license suspension.
- You will then receive a notice for an Administrative License Suspension Court date.
- You will have 30 days to either appeal the decision or apply for an ignition interlock limited permit. Keep in mind that the interlock permit lasts for one year, and you will be limited to driving to school, work, court, and dr appointments.
If you are pulled over and drugs are suspected to be the root cause of your impairment, you may be asked to submit to a blood test. The officer will need a search warrant to perform a blood test, however, unless you voluntarily consent to it. Regardless of whether you agree to a blood or breath alcohol test, it’s important to consult a DUI lawyer as soon as you can. Officers must follow specific procedures and an attorney can help determine whether those procedures were actually followed.
The Consequences of a DUI
The consequences of a DUI in Georgia are severe. First-time offenders face:
- A suspended license for up to one year
- A jail sentence of up to one year
- A fine of up to $1,000
- 40 hours of community service
- Required participation in an education program
If you’re a second, third or fourth time offender, higher fines and longer jail sentences will be imposed. For example, if you are on your fourth offense within a 10-year period, you will be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor, face up to five years in prison, and be fined up to $5,000.
Have You Been Charged with a DUI or DWI?
If you have been charged with a DUI in the greater Atlanta area, you need the best representation possible. At Schnipper Law, P.C., we will defend your rights and fight tirelessly for the best possible outcome.