DUI Defense Lawyer Suwanee & Gwinnett County
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Being convicted of a DUI in Georgia can have a detrimental impact on your life and any future prospective jobs. When found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, serious consequences like a heavy fine, license suspension, and imprisonment can be sentenced.
If you have been charged with a DUI in Georgia, hiring an experienced DUI defense attorney should be your next step. Here at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP, criminal law is one of our specialties, and Phil Pilgrim is the DUI lawyer who will always fight for your rights.
For years, Mr. Pilgrim worked as a prosecutor and has prosecuted more than 2,000 DUI cases. Now, he specializes in DUI defense cases. You never want a DUI, but if you’re ever charged with one, Phil Pilgrim is the best type of DUI lawyer to have. When looking for a DUI attorney, he should be your first choice.
We are located in Suwanee, but we represent clients from Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Hall County, Barrow County, Jackson County, and Dawson County. We hold a strong success rate within our reputation for successfully defending some of the most difficult cases. Our DUI lawyers have the experience, expertise, and skills needed to defend your case. Call us today for a free consultation.
Defining a DUI in Georgia
There are two ways to assess if you have violated DUI laws in Georgia.
The first is by a police officer examination. An officer can administer a field sobriety test or simply assess through observation. You can be charged for DUI of alcohol or drugs if you show any manifestations of impairment. Driving mannerisms alongside observations made by an officer of the law can lead to a charge of DUI “less safe” when an officer does not administer a breath or blood test.
The second way you could be charged is by chemical analysis of blood, urine, or breath. A blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or any other illegal drug use while operating a vehicle can lead to a DUI charge. Since there is physical evidence that involves chemicals that could impair your driving, this is known as a DUI “Per Se.”
Common Field Sobriety Tests
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) specifies three methods of standard for field sobriety tests. All police officers are trained to carry out all three tests.
Walk and Turn Evaluation
During this evaluation, an officer will have you take nine heel-to-toe steps forward, a turn, and nine steps back along a straight line. The officers will look for implications of suspected alcohol or drug influence. For example, losing balance, prematurely starting, taking more or fewer steps than instructed, stopping while walking, and stepping off-line or making an improper turn, you can be charged with a DUI.
One Leg Stand Evaluation
The administering officer will instruct you to stand on one foot with the other foot held about six inches off the ground for 30 seconds. The officer also may ask you to count by the thousandths until you are told to put your foot down. Loss of balance or hopping can cause you to be charged with a DUI.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
This is another standardized field sobriety test used on a DUI suspect. You are asked to follow a stimulus with your eyes while the officer looks for an involuntary jerking movement of the eyeball. Some people however can have natural nystagmus if they have a concussion or other head and eye conditions. This fact makes the test only partially reliable, and less reliable if the officer administers the test incorrectly. Our DUI attorneys can use any issues around how these tests were conducted to help defend your case.
You can also be charged with a DUI in the state of Georgia if you are driving while impaired by a substance other than alcohol, such as prescription medication, illegal drugs, or even over-the-counter substances such as cough syrups, pain relievers, inhalants, or cold or sleep medications. Any amount of marijuana or other controlled substance in your urine or blood, even if the substance is legally prescribed, can lead to legal prosecution.
Once a police officer requests you to perform a field sobriety test, you cannot refuse because you have already implied consent by obtaining a driver’s license. If you refuse the test, your license can be suspended for one year through Administrative License Suspension (ALS).
When Is A DUI A Felony In Georgia?
A DUI in Georgia has been considered a misdemeanor, but recently the law has been changed. If you are charged with a DUI four times in 10 years, you will be charged with a felony.
If a DUI is involved in an accident resulting in serious injury or death to a separate party, they will also be tried on felony charges.
Types of DUI Offenses in Georgia
DUI is always illegal, but in Georgia, as in other states, there are many different charges that may apply in your particular case, among them:
Georgia, unlike other states, has a law on the books allowing law enforcement to charge you with DUI even when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent. As long as the arresting officers can attest to the fact that they observed you  driving erratically after having consumed alcohol and/or drugs and  demonstrating impairment during field sobriety tests, they have sufficient evidence to illustrate that you were unable to drive your vehicle safely and may charge you with “Less Safe” DUI.
DUI “Per Se”
If you are pulled over by law enforcement officials and found, through a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine, to have a BAC over the legal limit, you can be legally arrested for DUI.
In Georgia, such an arrest carries with it two separate penalties: criminal prosecution and license suspension. While the former will be handled by the Georgia criminal court system, the latter will be enforced by The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS).
The legal restriction of license suspension occurs under the law of “implied consent,” a phrase that means everyone who drives has implicitly consented to be tested for alcohol and/or drug impairment. The decisions arrived at by Georgia’s criminal courts and by the DDS are entirely separate and are not affected by one another.
DUI Charges Vary According to the Number of Offenses Committed
As one might expect, DUI, like other crimes, is considered more serious the more it is repeated. Therefore, the penalties become harsher with each offense you commit. There are increasingly higher fines and longer jail or prison sentences for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and subsequent offenses.
Penalties for DUI Offenses
You should be aware that DUI convictions stay on your driving record for the rest of your life and can lead to the following penalties:
- Court costs and attorneys’ fee
- DUI education or substance abuse treatment, including costs
- Increasingly high fines
- Ignition interlock devices
- Jail time
- License suspension or revocation
- Limited driver’s permits
DUI convictions carry with them the possibility of severe penalties that may affect your life for a long time to come in terms of schooling, employment, military service, and background checks of all kinds. This is why it is essential to have the knowledge, skill, and support of one of the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP on your team.
Variations in the BAC Limit
In addition to the exception to the BAC limit of 0.08 percent in cases of “Less Safe” DUI, there is another variation in the BAC limit made in regard to new drivers. In an attempt to protect young drivers from their own impulsivity and to keep them from getting into the potentially deadly habit of drinking and driving at an early age, Georgia’s “zero” tolerance policy sets the BAC limit for drivers under the age of 21 at 0.02 percent.
Commercial drivers also must adhere to a different standard than the drivers of automobiles. Because commercial drivers are on the road so much of the time, and because they drive much larger, heavier vehicles than the average driver, they are also held to a stricter standard. Since statistics show that truck accidents are much more likely to result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities, particularly to the drivers and passengers of cars involved in such collisions, the BAC for commercial drivers in Georgia has been set at 0.04 percent, half the typical legal limit.
Driving Privileges Can Be Restricted by Other Offenses
Driving is a privilege that may be restricted or withheld from you, not only as a result of a DUI conviction, but because of a conviction for possessing, distributing, or using marijuana or any other illegal or controlled substance. A significant fact that you should be aware of is that you can be charged with DUI even if you are not driving at the time of arrest. This can happen if you are intoxicated or high and simply sitting behind the wheel of the car; you needn’t be actually driving to be found to be in control of the car. As long as the keys are in your possession, law enforcement may assume that you were driving while impaired, or that you are about to engage in this illegal activity.
When DUI Becomes a Felony
While DUI is usually considered to be a misdemeanor, certain circumstances can turn your DUI into a felony offense. If this happens, you are in serious trouble and the assistance of a sharp DUI lawyer is absolutely vital. DUI offenses become felonies when:
- DUI is your 4th offense
- DUI has resulted in “serious injury by vehicle”
- DUI has resulted in a fatality, known as “homicide by vehicle”
“Serious injury by vehicle” or “vehicular homicide” in the 1st degree have been considered felonies in Georgia since 2008. Injuries categorized as “serious” are those that: render part of the victim’s body useless (e.g. paralysis, blindness, serious disfigurement, brain damage). Other charges that result in felony charges for DUI offenses include those that involve:
- Failing to stop for police
- Fleeing from law enforcement
- Being a habitual offender
- Being involved in a hit-and-run accident
- Being in an accident with a school bus
With nearly 20,000 residents, Suwanee Georgia has a lot of activities going on. We’re proud to say we’ve helped many of them. Town Center Park is a 10-acre park located on Buford Highway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. This is where you’ll find the city hall along with a venue that has concerts, special events and so many opportunities for networking and family fun. From a farmer’s market every Saturday to weekly cornhole leagues (with lots of people involved!), it’s an active place to live and work
Not too far from downtown Suwanee is Sims Lake Park where there is always something going on. They have running clubs, cyclists enthusiasts and more that meet there.
Contact a 24-hour DUI Defense Lawyer in Suwanee
Being arrested for DUI can be frightening and confusing. Without a skilled legal professional at your side, the experience can be totally overwhelming. If you are arrested for DUI in Suwanee or the surrounding area, whether for a first offense or for a more complicated legal problem, you will find our services invaluable. Bear in mind that the consequences of your arrest may alter the course of your life.
At Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP, we are ready to help to extricate you from difficulties you face. Remember — the longer you wait to consult with us, the longer you remain in legal jeopardy. We are fully prepared to conduct in-depth investigations, confer with experts in related fields who may be helpful to your case, gather all pertinent evidence, interview any and all available witnesses, and construct a workable defense strategy. All you have to do is contact us by phone or by filling out a contact form on our website.
Contact Our Suwanee DUI Defense Lawyers Today
If you or your loved one are facing DUI charges in Gwinnett County, Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP can help. We have successfully defended DUI cases throughout Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Hall County, Barrow County, Jackson County, and Dawson County. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can fight for your rights.
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Our Service Area
We are located in Suwanee Georgia, but we defend clients throughout Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Hall County, Barrow County, Jackson County, and Dawson County. Contact our Atlanta law firm as soon as possible to learn how we advocate for your best interests.