My advice to anyone who is arrested for Driving Under the Influence is to hire your DUI attorney as soon after your arrest for DUI as is possible.  There are several reasons.

First is the fact that you have ten days to request an administrative hearing if you have been issued a DPS (Department of Public Safety) Form 1205.  If you do not file this request in a timely manner you can lose your driver’s license without ever being convicted of DUI.

Second is the fact that the scene of the DUI arrest should be visited by your DUI attorney as soon as possible after the arrest.  The location where you performed field sobriety tests should be carefully examined and its nature and characteristics documented as soon after your arrest as is possible.  Let me give you an example to explain why.  What if you were asked by the arresting officer to take nine heel-to-toe steps on the fog line at the side of the road during the nine step walk and turn field sobriety test?  What if the officer says you failed it?  What if the video of the arrest shows that you, in fact, were unsteady as you walked this line?  An examination of this line just after your arrest might show that under the white paint stripe called the fog line there are numerous points at which different layers of past road resurfacing happen to end and overlap.  So, what looks like a smooth white line in the video of the arrest is, in reality, a rough area where different layers of asphalt make an uneven surface and it is, therefore, difficult to walk on this surface heel-to-toe, even when you are completely sober.

Rest assured, you will want professional photographs of that rough surface to show the jury to contradict the prosecutor’s argument that you were unsteady as you walked on a smooth, painted line at the edge of the road.  And, rest assured, Murphy’s law dictates that if you do not get those photographs just as soon after the arrest as you can, the city, county, or state will barricade that section of the road and widen it, or in some manner change the configuration of the fog line, before you can document its original condition.  If you wait too long and let the condition of the fog line get changed, you have lost the opportunity to acquire evidence that could very well have resulted in your acquittal.

This hypothetical about the fog line presents only one example of a reason to hire your DUI attorney as soon as you can after your arrest.  There are others.  But, the fact is that a DUI arrest can greatly impact your life if you are convicted and the sooner you hire a competent DUI attorney to represent you in the matter, the better off you will be.

It used to be in the state of Georgia that the punishment for DUI convictions increased if you had more than one such conviction in a five year period.  You may or may not know that the period for adding DUI convictions together, resulting in enhanced punishment, is now ten years in the state of Georgia.

Ten years is a long time.  The chances are very good that if you enjoy drinking alcohol and if you foolishly choose to drive after drinking alcohol, then you’ll find yourself facing enhanced punishment for DUI convictions.   It’s simple math…the chance that you’ll be arrested for DUI more than once in a ten year period is at least twice what it was for a five year period.  Think about that and be wise and be cautious.

I’ve been asked before whether or not a person stopped for DUI should do field sobriety testing.  First, let me point out that your participation in field sobriety testing if asked to do so by a law enforcement officer is completely voluntary.  The law is that the officer does not have to tell you this when he asks you to do the tests, but you DO NOT have to do field sobriety testing when you are stopped for DUI.  My best advice is to politely and respectfully decline when the officer asks you to participate in field sobriety tests.

I am trained in field sobriety testing and I’ve dealt with many cases of DUI that involved field sobriety testing.  I have watched DUI suspects do well and do poorly on video of their field sobriety testing.  But, it doesn’t seem to matter much whether they do well or poorly, they get arrested and prosecuted for DUI.

In my opinion, all you are doing if you participate in DUI field sobriety testing is helping the officer make his case against you for DUI.  You can bet, if a law enforcement officer is asking you to do field sobriety testing, the chances are that he has already decided that he is going to arrest you for DUI.

Don’t forget, you have the right to refuse, and I suggest you do so.

If you are interviewing an attorney trying to decide whether or not that attorney will do the right job in defending you against a charge of DUI, here is a tip.  If, during that initial conversation, the attorney does not state that he or she wants to go to the scene of the traffic stop, DO NOT hire that attorney.

I always go to the scene of the stop.  There are things you can learn, as defense counsel, only by having your boots on the ground at the site.  I want to see the texture of the surface upon which my client did field sobriety testing.  I want to know the slope of the surface upon which my client was trying to stand on one foot, for example.  I want to experience the lighting, if possible.  I want to be oriented to the traffic that passes by the spot of the stop.  There are many reasons why going to the scene of the stop is mandatory, in my opinion.

In other words, if the attorney you’re talking to is either too lazy or too inexperienced to know the importance of visiting the scene of the stop, you’re talking to the wrong attorney.  Do not hire that individual.

Be aware that the Georgia courts are biased against DUI defendants and there are procedures and case law in place that specifically result in the denial of a fair trial to a DUI defendant in the state of Georgia.  I can give you one very good, simple example.

At the conclusion of a DUI jury trial, the judge instructs the jury on what to do with the facts and the Georgia law as it governs the juror’s deliberation on guilt or innocence.  In doing this, the judge is, theoretically, not allowed to create an irrebutable presumption that makes it impossible for the defendant to disprove something the state must prove to establish the defendant’s guilt.

Nevertheless, the judge in the state of Georgia is entitled to tell the jury that the intoxilizer machine used by the state to measure the blood alcohol content of a person’s lung air is considered accurate if used correctly.  And, this is absolutely untrue!  Any number of experts can give a large number of reasons that the results of the intoxilizer are not reliable.

Sometimes in a DUI case the prosecution’s entire case is based on a readout of blood alcohol content from the intoxilizer.  The defendant’s entire defense in such a case may be his expert witness who has testified to numerous design and operational deficiencies of the intoxilizer machine that might have resulted in an inaccurate result.  So the state is saying to the jury, convict this person because the intoxilizer gave this result and the defendant is saying to the jury, don’t convict me because the intoxilizer is not a reliable machine.

But, the judge tells the jury, just before they retire for deliberation, that the intoxilizer results are considered to be accurate.  This has been challenged in the Georgia Court of Appeals and the appellate court upheld this practice, finding, by some sort of judicial magic, that this instruction did not create an irrebutable presumption.  Needless to say, the Georgia Court of Appeals has given a gift to the prosecutors in the state of Georgia, heavily weighting the outcome of DUI trials involving the intoxilizer in favor of the state of Georgia.

Few people know that in Georgia you can lose your driver’s license after a DUI arrest without ever being convicted of any crime.  In Georgia, if your blood alcohol content is .08 or above you can be required to request an administrative hearing after your arrest for DUI.  If you do not request that hearing your driver’s license can be administratively suspended by the Department of Driver Services for a year or more.  If you do request the hearing and if you lose on the merits at the administrative hearing that results, then your driver’s license will be suspended for a year or more.  This suspension of your driver’s license occurs as a result of an administrative proceeding that is separate from and that takes place in addition to the proceedings in the criminal court where you will be prosecuted for the crime of DUI.  So your Georgia driver’s license can be suspended without ever being found guilty of the DUI that you were arrested for.

The best bet is to contact a competent DUI attorney immediately after your arrest for DUI.  You only have ten days after your arrest within which to request the administrative hearing.  So don’t mess around if you’re arrested for DUI.