Is it Worth Fighting a DUI Charge?
Fighting a DUI charge is almost always better than taking it lying down.
We usually hear this question if the defendant provided a breath or blood sample. Georgia, like most other states, has a per se DUI law. If a sample showed that the defendant’s BAC (blood alcohol content) level was above the legal limit, the defendant is intoxicated as a matter of law. Therefore, many of these defendants think there’s no reason to fight the charge. However, this law only applies if the Breathalyzer’s or other gadget’s result is accurate. Additionally, many DUI cases have non-intoxication defenses.
Because of these possibilities, a good Georgia criminal defense lawyer should always review your DUI case. Attorneys leverage these defenses both at trial and during pretrial plea bargain negotiations. These negotiations often result in a reduced sentence or even a plea to a lesser-included offense that does not have the same collateral consequences as DUI.
Chemical Test Flaws
If you wanted to watch the Super Bowl, you probably would not want to turn on an old-style tube TV with a small glass screen and a cloudy picture, even if it had some extra bells and whistles.
The Breathalyzer, despite all its impressive features, is an updated version of a 1920s Drunk-o-Meter. Both devices use breath alcohol content to estimate BAC. This extra step introduces some flaws into the system, such as:
- Body Temperature: Fever increases the body’s core temperature. Every 1 degree above normal increases breath alcohol content by almost 10 percent. On a related note, Breathalyzers, especially ones with lots of features, are very sensitive devices. The outdoor temperature often skews the results as well.
- Mouth Alcohol: If the defendant burped or vomited in the 15 minutes prior to the test, alcohol particles from the stomach enter the mouth and, once again, skew the BAC estimate. State law includes a required pre-test monitoring period, but this requirement isn’t strictly enforced.
- Unabsorbed Alcohol: Recently consumed alcohol shows up in the breath but not the blood since alcohol must travel through the liver before it enters the bloodstream. Officers often detain motorists who have been drinking recently, so this flaw often comes up in court.
These flaws, and other ones, are especially big in .08, .09, and other borderline BAC cases. A slight error could be the difference between guilt and innocence in these cases.
Blood tests are much more reliable than breath tests. But they are not 100% accurate. To highlight this point, a Georgia criminal defense lawyer often orders a re-test. An independent chemist often reaches different conclusions than a police technician.
Regardless of intoxication, DUI charges only hold up in court if the defendant was in a public place at the time. Apartment complexes and shopping mall streets are not public places, even if these streets have names and stop signs or other traffic control devices.
Additionally, the vehicle must have been operable at the time. This defense often comes up if officers arrested a defendant who was passed out behind the wheel. In court, the prosecutor must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the car or truck had gas in the tank and was otherwise operable. Frequently, such evidence simply is not available because no one checked the gas gauge or the tire pressure.
Reach Out to Gwinnett County DUI Defense Lawyer Today
Serious DUI charges do not always hold up in court, even in chemical test cases. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Norcross, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters in Fulton County and nearby jurisdictions.