If You Are Facing a DUI Charge, Give Us a Call

Losing your driver’s license can have devastating consequences on your personal and professional life. Michael Fulcher Law offers our clients the best defense against first time DUI charges, and any thereafter, commercial driver’s license DUI, nurse and doctor DUI, and bodily injury felony DUI, including vehicular manslaughter.

Whether a first-time, youthful, or habitual offender, Michael Fulcher Law brings the cumulative experience of ten years serving as a prosecutor and public defender, as well as years of private practice, to develop a strategy that fully defends your liberty and driving privileges. Fulcher has represented clients in Morgan, Greene, Jasper, Putnam, Walton, Newton and Taliaferro Counties, with a primary office in Madison, Georgia, and a secondary office in Monroe, Georgia.

He knows the people involved in the DUI and traffic divisions of these local counties: police, prosecutors, and judges. He takes this insider knowledge about state players and uses it to your advantage. Every court and county is different in how they treat DUI’s. This knowledge is essential to navigating the criminal justice system and helping you to avoid or minimize penalties.

Call or email to schedule a free consultation today. Don’t delay. There are strict, non-waivable time constraints to fight to retain your driving privileges and maintain all of your defenses. You don’t want to let those deadlines pass.

How to Beat a DUI Charge in Georgia

Although ordinarily prosecuted as a misdemeanor, the consequences of a conviction or guilty plea to a DUI charge can be extraordinarily destructive: jail time, loss of driving privileges, fines, fees, community service, probation supervision, and rehabilitation classes. All of these cost money and invite State interference into your private life for months, or even years, in the future.

This is why you need to hire a skilled and experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights and preserve your defenses. Experienced DUI lawyers know how to examine the police reports, toxicology reports, witness statements, and accident reports, if any, to see where there are weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Many times these vulnerabilities are not immediately apparent, but lie hidden under stock phrases, technical jargon, and legalese.

A good criminal defense lawyer will also prepare you for each stage of a prosecution so that you feel less overwhelmed and more in control. And while fully defending you, a good criminal defense attorney will create the best record for probation. Only experienced counsel knows how to do this to your benefit.

  • Do not speak with police officers when stopped for a DUI. You are only under an obligation to produce your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. You only need to tell the officer your name and address. Anything else you say can be used against you. Chatting casually with officers or even answering their direct questions offers them opportunities to observe your behaviors, hesitations, and gather evidence of your capacity to drive. By remaining silent, you are preserving your right not to provide the evidence needed to convict you of a DUI.

If you admit to using even over-the-counter drugs that might have an impact on your ability to drive, police can insist that you submit to a blood or urine test. And to retain your driver’s license, you must consent or be compelled by a warrant. No matter what that refusal can cost you your license for up to 12 months.

And if arrested, do not speak with other people held in jail. You have no idea who anyone is and what they might do to secure a better deal or lighter sentence. Don’t give anyone an opportunity to testify against you.

  • Do not yell or act belligerently. Remember there are often body and vehicle-mounted cameras, so any of your behaviors, as well as those of the police, are likely to be recorded. And your hostile or threatening attitude can turn a prosecutor, judge, or jury against you.
  • Do not take any field sobriety or roadside breathalyzer tests unless you know you have not been drinking or using drugs that might impair your capacity to drive. These tests are voluntary and they are highly unreliable. Field sobriety tests are subjective and dependent on the police officer’s training and objectivity.

There are several types of field sobriety evaluations: a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test, a Walk and Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand test. In addition, officers might ask you to recite the alphabet, stand with your feet close together while tipping your head skyward, count the number of fingers the officer has raised, closing your eyes and touching a finger to your nose, or counting backwards. These tests are quite subjective. Different officers interpret a driver’s performance differently. In addition, roadside conditions, such as temperature and weather, can impact your performance negatively but not be accurately reflected in the police report.

By giving an officer less opportunity to observe your behaviors, especially in response to commands and complex instructions, you are giving the police less evidence as to your state of mind.

You can also refuse to take a roadside breath test using a handheld device, such as an Alco-sensor. The device only determines the presence of alcohol, not the extent of intoxication or impairment, if any. You may refuse to take this Alco-sensor test without legal penalty.

You can refuse a roadside breathalyzer test, too. A breathalyzer attempts to measure the blood alcohol content in an individual’s system. It calculates the absorption rate of a beam of light that passes through the suspect’s breath which might contain alcohol molecules. The roadside breathalyzer is a very inaccurate way to measure blood alcohol content, as variations in the readings can result from deeper and longer exhalations. The number registered on a roadside breathalyzer is not admissible in a later trial although the fact that it was administered and whether it showed evidence of drinking is. Therefore, avoid this evidence by refusing to take these roadside tests.

  • Know that in refusing to take these unreliable roadside tests, you might be immediately arrested and taken to the police station if there is even subjective evidence of intoxication. Once at the station you do not have the right to refuse to take an Intoxilyzer 9000, blood, or urine test, without consequences. Refusal to take any of these will result in an automatic suspension of your license. If you refuse, the police may seek a warrant to force you to submit to giving blood or urine.

If I take the Intoxilyzer 9000 test, do I have any defenses left if my blood alcohol levels reach per se levels?

No test is perfect, including the Intoxilyzer 9000. How the test is administered must follow strict guidelines. Before administering the test, the officer must have observed the suspected DUI driver directly and continuously for a minimum of 20 minutes. This is required to eliminate any possible residual mouth alcohol, which might skewer the results.

Smokeless tobacco, denture adhesive, mints, lip balm, and blood can cause higher readings if present in your mouth at the time of testing.

Some medical conditions will also slant the results. Gastric reflux and regurgitation can raise the level of mouth alcohol. The device must be regularly inspected, tested, and cleaned. And officers must be continuously trained to operate the Intoxilyzer 9000.

And the test must be administered within 3 hours of driving in order to accurately measure the amount of alcohol consumed.

The officer must obtain two samples of your breath and the results must be within 0.020 grams percent of each other to be admissible as reliable.

Lastly, small-framed women are biased in the test, scoring higher than their actual blood alcohol levels.

Do not resist arrest. In addition to avoiding ambiguous behaviors that can be misinterpreted as aggressive, do not actively resist arrest. Presume that this roadside interaction with police is being recorded by either a body or vehicle-mounted camera. Remain silent and ask to call your DUI lawyer.

You have no expectation of privacy when confronted by police at a traffic stop. Your conversations with any passengers can be included in any police reports and testimony. Even if you call your DUI lawyer, that conversation, if held so that police can overhear, is not privileged. Anything that you say in front of officers is admissible in their police reports and later in court.

Remember everyone’s name. The arresting officer, the nurse who gathered your blood or urine, the booking officer, any witnesses, any other drivers, all of these people might hold exonerating testimony. Those names are potential witnesses who can corroborate your story, or the police version. Your defense lawyer will want to know who they are.

To protect your right to drive, you must file a request for an ALS Hearing within 30 days of arrest. If you refused to take a breath, blood, or urine test at the police station, and that refusal is submitted to GA DDS, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended. You have exactly 30 days from arrest to appeal this administrative decision. The request costs $150, which fee must be paid at the time the request is filed. Do not miss this exclusive opportunity to retain your driving privileges. Call a skilled and experienced DUI lawyer to preserve all your defenses and rights.

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When you need a lawyer after being charged with a DUI or criminal offense or as you explore your options for filing a personal injury claim, look no further than Michael Fulcher Law’s impressive background, and ultra-attentive client service. To learn more about how we can help you achieve the best legal solution possible for your circumstances, call our criminal defense law firm at (706) 438-1555 or contact us online, and schedule your free consultation today.

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First Offense DUI in Georgia

Georgia law does not have a first offender act on DUI convictions. A first offense cannot be handled by diversion or withholding judgment. Penalties are required although, there is some discretion allowed in sentencing. Here is why you need to retain skilled DUI criminal defense lawyers to navigate through the prosecution, probation, and sentencing process. Whether you decide to plead guilty or are convicted, the penalties for even a first offense are harsh:

  • 12-month license suspension with the possibility of limited driving privileges to work at a later time
  • 24 hours or up to 12 months in county jail
  • $300-$1,000 fines, plus court costs and fees
  • 12 months supervised probation with a fee that varies by the county at around $40/month
  • Clinical alcohol/drug assessment
  • DUI Risk Reduction class, usually costs $350
  • 40 hours of approved community service

Second Offense DUI in Georgia

For a second DUI in Georgia, within 10 years of a prior DUI conviction, the penalties are compounded, and the judge has less discretion at sentencing. Only a skilled DUI criminal defense lawyer knows how to evaluate your case and guide you through a process that fully litigates your defenses.

  • 18-month license suspension
  • The maximum penalty is up to 12 months in county jail, although usually a person is sentenced to a minimum of 72 hours in jail

  • 12 months supervised probation with a fee that varies by the county at around $40/month

  • $600-$1,000 fines, plus court costs and fees
  • Alcohol assessment and a clinical evaluation
  • DUI Risk Reduction class, usually costs $350
  • 240 hours of community service
  • Maintain an Ignition Interlock device on your vehicle for a period of time
  • $25 fee for publishing your photo in the local newspaper where the DUI occurred

Third Offense DUI in Georgia

A third DUI conviction imposes mandatory sentencing that involves jail time, license suspension, and public shaming. Each of these mandatory programs comes with a cost that you will have to pay. In addition, a third conviction within 5 years can mark you as a habitual offender. Because a third DUI conviction creates a horrendous record that will follow you through the rest of your life, you need a skilled DUI defense lawyer to protect you from excessive penalties.

  • 5-year license suspension with no limited driving privileges for work within the first 2 years
  • 120 days-12 months in jail, with a mandatory 15-day jail sentence
  • Fines between $1,000-$5,000
  • 12-36 months of probation
  • 30 days (240 hours) of community service
  • License plate surrender
  • DUI Risk Reduction class
  • Mandatory alcohol or drug counseling and treatment programs
  • Publication of photo in the local newspaper
  • Declared a habitual offender if 3rd major traffic offense within the last 5 years
  • A subsequent DUI could be a felony offense with prison time

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! DUI laws in Georgia do not distinguish between public, and private property. You may not drive any moving, motorized vehicle anywhere in Georgia while impaired. That includes golf carts, 4-wheelers, and even lawnmowers. Where you drive is not important. Therefore, police can arrest you for DUI on private property, even sitting behind the wheel in your own driveway.

The per se blood alcohol level for drivers over the age of 21 is 0.08. For young drivers, under the age of 21, the per se blood alcohol level is 0.02. For drivers of commercial vehicles, the per se blood alcohol level is 0.04. A per se blood alcohol means that once established, it is assumed that the driver is impaired.

Less safe driving can be charged even if the blood alcohol readings do not reach per se levels. Less safe driving can be charged with blood alcohol levels of 0.05-.08. The offense is proved by the officer’s observations, any accident report, and witness testimony, along with any blood alcohol test results. Below 0.05, as an adult, non-commercial driver, you are not likely to be charged with less safe driving, but might be open to other charges.

You probably won’t be able to call your lawyer! However, you are under no obligation to submit to a roadside field sobriety test or handheld breath test. The field sobriety test is subjective, and not evidence of impairment. The handheld breath test is unreliable as an indicator of legal intoxication. Therefore, you should refuse, although know that a refusal might result in an arrest. Once at the police station you are under a legal obligation, as a condition of your driver’s license, to submit to an Intoxilyzer 9000, blood, or urine test or else face a suspension of your driving privileges.

Yes, in Georgia, you will lose driving privileges for some period of time even for a first DUI conviction or plea. The maximum sentence is 12-month suspension. However, once you complete DUI school, and pay a reinstatement fee, you can apply for reinstatement after 120 days.

A driver over the age of 21 can apply for a limited use driving permit for the duration of the suspension that will allow you to drive to work, school, counseling, DUI School, for medical care, and treatment, to pharmacies, court appearances, probation appointments, and community service. This limited driving permit may also include driving an unlicensed, family member to their work, school, medical appointments, and to pharmacies.

If you are under 21, your license will be suspended for 12 months without any limited driving permits.

You do not have to submit to a field sobriety test or roadside breathalyzer test. Field sobriety tests are notoriously subjective. Roadside breathalyzer tests are also not reliable. However, both tests act as screening evaluations.

Do know that if you refuse to take a field sobriety test or breathalyzer, you will most probably be arrested.

Once at the police station, you will be asked to submit to an Intoxilyzer 9000 test, blood, and/or urine test. If you refuse any of these, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended. You must be informed of the consequences of refusing these tests. If you still refuse, the police can get a warrant, and force submission to blood, and urine tests, depending on the circumstances. Again how you act when confronted with these options provides police with opportunities to determine your mental, and physical capacity.

Police must tell you that you will lose your driver’s license if you refuse to take the Intoxilyzer 9000, blood and/or urine tests. You can request the right to call your lawyer before submitting to the test. You must file a request for an ALS hearing within 30 days of arrest in order to preserve your right to contest the driver’s license suspension.

First, you will have your license suspended for 12 months, with an opportunity to file a request for an ALS Hearing to appeal the decision within 30 days of arrest.

Next, the police might seek a warrant to compel you to take a blood or urine test. It takes time to get the warrant, in which time, your alcohol levels will continue to decline. A refusal to take required Intoxilyzer 9000, blood, or urine tests negates your opportunity to request an independent blood test at the station.

However, refusing to take these tests does not mean the prosecution will drop its case against you. The prosecutor can still pursue the DUI charges by showing impairment through evidence of slurred speech, bloodshot or dilated eyes, fumbling for your driver’s license or registration, reactions to police questions, odor of alcohol, open containers in the vehicle, admissions of drinking or drug use, and of course, your manner of driving. If the stop was recorded by a patrol car camera or the questioning by a body-camera, those tapes are admissible as evidence of driving under the influence, too.

AMAZING WORK

“Mr. Fulcher has been tremendously helpful with my case. Since hiring him he has consistently returned my calls as quickly as he can. We discussed an ideal outcome, and I set about doing exactly as he said. Following his advice we were able to get a very favorable outcome. He is always quick to answer any questions, and has stayed very engaged with me throughout this ordeal. Michael provides excellent counsel, and I would recommend him to anyone!”

— TOM

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