You can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs in Georgia for using illegal drugs or if you were groggy from an over the counter or prescription medication. The punishment for a DUI with drugs of any form in your system is more severe than alcohol-related offenses. If you were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, you need an experienced DUI attorney who will help you avoid a license suspension, fines and jail time. Convictions for DUI drugs arrests also bring a hard suspension of your driver’s license with no work permit, so it is critical to aggressively fight for your rights.
What Evidence is Required to be Found Guilty of a DUI Drugs Crime in Georgia?
To be convicted of DUI drugs, the prosecution must prove that:
- You were driving under the influence of drugs.
- The drugs caused your driving to be “less safe.”
When you are charged for a DUI involving drugs, there is no minimum limit to how much of the substance must be in your system to be convicted. The presence of any illegal drug in your blood or urine is enough to be found guilty in DUI “per se” cases. Illegal drugs frequently connected to DUI drug arrests include:
Additional drug possession charges are possible if the police find illegal substances in any vehicle searched by consent of the driver or vehicular searches connected to a lawful arrest, probable cause or a search warrant.
Though you may have had drugs in your system, your driving must have been reckless or dangerous enough to justify the police stop in the first place. Our trained drug crime attorneys will examine the police reports in search of any error or mistake that can result in evidence being suppressed or your charges being dropped.
How to Fight a DUI Drugs Arrest Involving Prescription Drugs
Skilled criminal defense attorneys like those at Banks, Stubbs and McFarland understand the scientific literature that establishes the quantities and varieties of medication that are necessary to treat common ailments. Our lawyers recognize that certain medical conditions can resemble impairment from a drug and can be incorrectly identified as drug use by untrained or inexperienced police officers. Prescription and over the counter medications frequently associated with driving under the influence of drugs cases include: antihistamines, stimulants, tranquilizers, pain relievers, sleep aids, sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants and cough suppressants. The names of these drugs include:
In prescription drug cases, the prosecution must prove the heightened burden of “incapable of driving safely.” Many of the legal medications listed above cause side effects such as grogginess, drowsiness, dizziness, confusion and loss of coordination. Taking more than one of these medications can increase both your symptoms and impairment. Thus, if a police officer pulls you over when you are experiencing these side effects you could face a DUI charge. Our legal team will work tirelessly to uncover the weak areas in the State of Georgia’s claim against you in order to get your DUI drug charges dismissed or reduced. We are available to clients located throughout North Georgia with offices in Cumming and Buford.
The attorneys at Banks, Stubbs, and McFarland have expert training in DUI law and will vigorously challenge DUI drugs charges and fight for your rights. Call 770-887-1209 now or use the contact form below to schedule a free review of your case with some of the most experienced criminal defense lawyers in GA.
Does the Implied Consent Law in Georgia Apply to Illegal Drugs?
Georgia police officers may pull over anyone they feel has committed a traffic violation. The officer may suspect you of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you are arrested for a suspected DUI drugs or alcohol charge, you are subject to Georgia’s Implied Consent Law. The Implied Consent Law states that everyone with a Georgia driver’s license impliedly consents to a drug screening test of your blood or urine after being pulled over for a suspected DUI. The law allows you to refuse the chemical test, but if you decline the test, the officer will likely initiate an administrative suspension of your driver’s license. The lawyers at Banks, Stubbs and McFarland will protect your rights and defend you against this license suspension for refusing a drug chemical test under the Implied Consent Law.
Does the Less Safe Law in Georgia Apply to DUI Drugs Cases?
Many clients are surprised to learn that they can be convicted of a DUI drugs crime when they only took prescription medication or a medicine available over the counter. This category of DUI charges falls under Georgia’s Less Safe Laws. For Less Safe cases involving medications, the State has the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the drug you took impaired your driving to the point where you were incapable of operating your vehicle safely. The skilled attorneys at Banks, Stubbs, and McFarland have relationships with expert witnesses who know science, and will testify for clients whose dose of the medication was within the lawful, therapeutic range.
What is the Punishment for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?
Every person who is convicted of a DUI drugs crime in Georgia receives a minimum of a 6 month hard driver’s license suspension. Unlike a first offense, alcohol-related DUI, a conviction for driving under the influence of drugs prevents you from earning a work permit or hardship license. There are no exceptions to this complete ban from driving. Thus, it is critical for a DUI attorney to acquire and challenge all of the evidence from the officer’s observations, including the videotape, and the data and results of all the crime lab testing. Our experienced DUI attorneys will also track down evidence that the officer did not have at the time of the arrest such as medical records. A thorough investigation and medical records can provide an innocent explanation to the officer’s observations and may result in dismissal or reduction of the DUI drugs charge.
The punishments for even a first DUI drugs conviction may include:
- Jail time from to 24 hours to 1 year per offense
- Thousands of dollars of court penalties and fines per each offense
- A permanent change to your criminal record
- A minimum of one year of probation with fees for supervision
- Community service for a minimum of 40 hours
- DUI school
- Clinical evaluations & recommended treatment
- AA meetings; sobriety journals
- Other classes aimed at alcohol awareness for DUI prevention
The penalties for a DUI drugs charge are too harsh not to seek the help of a DUI defense lawyer. We at Banks, Stubbs, and McFarland understand the traumatic impact a driving under the influence of drugs conviction can have on your life and career. We fight these charges throughout Northern Georgia and will be your own personal champion of justice in your quest to avoid a DUI conviction.
Inaccuracies in Testing for DUI Drug Impairment
Many people are overwhelmed upon an arrest for a DUI drugs charge. It may seem tempting to simply plead guilty in order to avoid the stress of a trial. Recent news articles, however, confirm that the evidence surrounding DUI drug arrests is largely inaccurate. The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland are aware of the evidentiary flaws and will fight the State of Georgia’s case against you. In May 2017, two news articles highlighted the inaccuracies in testing for DUI drug impairment. NPR published a summary of a multi-state study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association concluding that there is no definitive way to measure the level of impairment in drivers with drugs found in their system. Without a clear indication of impairment, our highly trained attorneys have the ability to fight the State of Georgia’s DUI drugs charges against you. Additionally, 11Alive revealed a high number of arrests in Georgia where the driver had not taken a drug of any kind. Police officers based their arrests on observation alone, but this was not a reliable indicator of drug use or impairment. As the State of Georgia requires that your driving be proven to be “less safe” for a DUI drugs conviction, incorrect assessments of impairment should result in your case being dropped or dismissed when properly managed by an attorney. Don’t risk a DUI drugs conviction for a crime you didn’t commit. Call the expert legal team at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland at 770-887-1209 for a free review of your case.
Fulton D.U.I. Drugs Case Dismissed
Client (M.G.) swerved all the way into the wrong lane and an approaching log truck twice before overcorrecting and rolling his vehicle three times down an embankment. Client could not recall the accident, was slow to respond to the officers questions, had slurred speech, and was observed wearing a Fentanyl patch.
Client was charged with D.U.I. by the Alpharetta Police Department and a blood test subsequently revealed the presence of lorazepam (Ativan), meprobamate, amphetamine, trazodone, and hydroxyzine. Attorney Parker McFarland filed a motion to suppress the blood test result on the basis that Client was not legally arrested since he was not booked though he was charged.
After a hearing in Fulton County State Court, the judge granted the motion to suppress and excluded the blood test result. Attorney Parker McFarland then negotiated a dismissal of the D.U.I. charge and a $200 fine for failure to maintain lane.
DUI Drugs in Atlanta – Hydrocodone and Diazepam
Client (M.D.) was charged with DUI drugs in Atlanta (Coweta State Court). After a 5 day trial handled by Attorney Parker McFarland, the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty” to DUI drugs less safe and DUI drugs per se. Client’s blood and urine were positive for hydrocodone and diazepam. Client was driving an 18 wheeler, ran off the road and hit a police car and the vehicle the officer had pulled over for speeding, causing injuries to the officer. Also, Client did not stop his commercial vehicle but continued driving until the next truck stop. The defense called two experts, Tony Palacios and Marland Dulaney, PhD. Tony Palacios testified as a field sobriety expert and stated that (1) the arresting trooper skipped critical steps in the DRE 12 step process and (2) all field sobriety tests (HGN, walk and turn, one leg stand, Rhomberg) were conducted improperly; therefore, they were ALL invalid and unreliable. Dr. Dulaney testified as a forensic toxicologist and pharmacologist and stated that the low levels of diazepam and hydrocodone would not cause impairment, especially when taking into consideration Client’s tolerance. The experts established that Client’s medical conditions of depression and diabetes could have mimicked a person who was impaired from drugs. The “not guilty” verdicts enabled Client to avoid lifetime disqualification to operate a commercial vehicle.
Forsyth County DUI Drugs Case Dismissed
Client (B.P.) was stopped by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office for four instances of failing to maintain her lane and almost driving off the road. Client produced a list of 20 prescription medications she was taking, including narcotics and central nervous system depressants. Client was unsteady while exiting her vehicle, had slurred speech, her eyes were slow to react to light, she complained of dry mouth, she moved and grinded her jaw and had exaggerated reflexes. She failed an HGN eye test with the maximum 6 of 6 clues and estimated the passage of 30 seconds on the Romberg test in 51 seconds. She attempted to complete the walk and turn test but was unable to stand in the instructional position without severe balance problems. Client was unable to perform a one leg stand test. She was arrested for D.U.I. drugs and the GBI blood test revealed the presence of 7 prescription medications.
Attorney Parker McFarland filed various challenges to the State’s evidence and a hearing was scheduled in Forsyth County State Court. On the morning of the pre-trial hearing, the solicitor general was presented with Client’s medical records showing a diagnosis of lupus and fibromyalgia. Attorney Parker McFarland argued that the manifestations the officer observed were consistent with Client’s medical diagnosis and were not the result of impairment from drugs.
The prosecutor then agreed to dismiss the 7 counts of D.U.I. drugs and Client entered a plea to a single lane violation.
Klonopin – DUI Drugs Acquittal
Female client stopped late at night due to cutting a corner of the gore (striped area where you are not supposed to drive). Upon being stopped she admitted taking prescribed Klonopin. Officer had followed her for over a mile which included three or four turns with stops signs – all done properly and at correct speed. Slight bobbles on Field Sobriety test which client attributed on video to nervousness.
NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS.
DUI Drugs Reduced to Reckless Driving in Dawson County Superior Court
Client (K.J.) was charged with DUI drugs in Dawson County Superior Court. This was Client’s third DUI case within a five year period. Client rear-ended another vehicle after being observed driving erratically, swerving from lane to lane, and off into the median and back into the road. The officers observed Client to have thick and slow speech, to be unsteady on her feet, to sway backwards into her car door, and to perform very poorly on the walk and turn and one leg stand field sobriety tests. Eight clonazepam (klonopin) pills were found inside a prescription bottle that had been filled the day before with a quantity of 75. Client’s blood and urine test was positive for clonazepam and marijuana.
Attorney Parker McFarland filed a Motion to Suppress the blood and urine test on the basis that the officer read the Implied Consent card BEFORE arresting Client. After a pre-trial hearing, the judge excluded the results of the blood and urine test since the officer did not read the Implied Consent Card AFTER arrest, as required by Georgia law.
On the morning of Client’s scheduled bench trial, the Dawson County District Attorney reduced the DUI drugs charge to reckless driving.
Forsyth County DUI Drugs Case Reduced
Client (A.Z.), who had previously been convicted of DUI in 2010, was charged in Cumming, Georgia with driving under the influence of drugs after a blood test revealed the presence of hydrocodone (Lortab), dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine, clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax), and meprobamate. Client was stopped by a Forsyth County officer after he observed the truck weave across the center line and fogline several times. Client was observed to also have an odor of alcohol, admitted to drinking beer, had slow and slurred speech, glassy and bloodshot eyes, and was unsteady on his feet. Client performed extremely poor and failed all of the standardized field sobriety tests including the HGN eye test, walk and turn test, and one leg stand balancing test. Client also performed poorly on the Rhomberg test and was unable to recite the alphabet without severely mixing up the letters despite being offered the opportunity to try it twice.
Attorney Parker McFarland argued in a pre-trial hearing that Client was not properly medically cleared to perform the field sobriety tests and was not a proper candidate for the tests according to the officer’s NHTSA training. Attorney Parker McFarland hired an expert witness named Randall Tackett, Ph.D. who wrote an opinion letter which stated that all of the medications were in the low to mid therapeutic level range. Moreover, Dr. Tackett said that client’s medical conditions themselves (rod in left leg, anxiety, seizures, dyslexia, ADHD) could account for how Client appeared to the officer.
The prosecutor decided to reduce the DUI to reckless driving and Client avoided a DUI conviction on the first morning of the trial week.
DUI Drugs in Forsyth County, Georgia
Client (J.A.D.) was charged with DUI Drugs (Lortab) and speeding 84 MPH in a 65 MPH zone by Forsyth County officers. At the jury trial in Forsyth County State Court, the officer testified that Defendant admitted to taking two Lortabs 4-6 hours prior to arrest, was speeding, unsteady on his feet, failed the HGN eye test with six of six possible clues, had bloodshot, watery, and very dilated eyes, non-reacting pupils, slow speech, slow reactions, was slow in stopping, had sweaty skin, that Client failed the one-leg stand with three out of four possible clues, that Client failed the Rhomberg test by estimating 30 seconds in 40 seconds, and that Client refused a blood and urine test. Client testified that he took Lortab pursuant to a prescription resulting from back surgery.
Attorney Parker McFarland argued to the jury that the State had not met its burden of proof for DUI prescription drugs, that Client was “incapable of driving safely”. The jury agreed and returned a “not guilty” verdict for both DUI Drugs and Speeding.