In Georgia, a teenager (or any driver below the legal drinking age) may be charged with driving under the influence for possessing a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02% or higher while operating a motor vehicle. If you or your child were recently arrested for a teenage DUI, you must immediately contact an experienced defense lawyer to begin fighting this serious criminal charge.
Teenage drivers could be charged with one or two offenses associated with drunk driving: underage DUI or standard DUI. If the teenager’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was higher than .02% but lower than .08%, he or she may face an under 21 DUI charge. For a BAC of .08% or higher, he or she could face both standard DUI and under 21 DUI charges.
The sentence for an under 21 DUI could include up to 20 hours of community service and a six-month license suspension. The sentence for a standard DUI is increased and may include a license suspension for up to 12 months.
A teenaged DUI offender can also face other consequences. For example, the insurance company can increase his or her premiums once they learn about the under 21 DUI conviction. If the teenager is considered especially high risk, the insurance policy could be cancelled outright. The conviction may also be included in a federal criminal database, accessible by third parties–including potential employers.
An under 21 DUI can also have unexpected legal issues, especially if the offender is about to turn 21. If the case goes to trial after his or her 21st birthday, the court can impose a more severe license suspension. This is due to the fact that the courts treat individuals over 21 as adults, even if the crime was committed when he or she was underage.
Implied Consent GA
Think about the last day you went without driving your car. If you’re like many Georgia residents, you may be hard pressed to remember a time you didn’t need to drive somewhere. Whether it’s going to work, picking up your kids from school, or running errands, your driver’s license is a necessary part of your day-to-day life. Unfortunately, you could lose your ability to drive if you were arrested for driving under the influence and declined to take a breathalyzer test.
It may seem odd that your license can be suspended if the police don’t have proof that you were driving under the influence of alcohol; however, according to Georgia’s Implied Consent law, this is exactly what can happen if you failed to submit to a breath test. This law–which every Georgia license holder automatically agrees to–states that you may be subject to an administrative license suspension if you are suspected of drunk driving and refuse the officer’s request to take a chemical test. And, because this sentence is imposed by the Department of Driver Services (DDS) and not the criminal court, you can lose your license even before being found guilty.
Fortunately, you are allowed the opportunity to fight your automatic license suspension; however, you have only 10 days to request a hearing with the DDS. Your DUI defense attorney can help you fill out the necessary paperwork in order to appeal the loss of your driving privileges. In addition, your attorney can represent you during the hearing.
When an officer asks you to take a breath, blood, or urine test, he or she must read the Implied Consent warning and explain the consequences you may face upon refusal. If the officer did not read this warning, your attorney can use this omission as evidence on your behalf. After all, if you didn’t know about the penalties associated with an Implied Consent violation, how could you make an informed decision?
Field Sobriety Tests Georgia
Could you get up right now and stand on one leg for 30 seconds? What about walking in a perfectly straight line, taking heel to toe steps? If you are like many people, you would have difficulty performing these physical tasks under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, law enforcement agents ask nervous drivers to perform these tasks every day to determine if a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest can be made.
While there are a number of field sobriety tests that can be administered to individuals suspected of DUI, only three have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn test. The NHTSA has developed a number of guidelines that must be adhered to when administering these tests.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus, considered the most “scientific” of the three tests, measures the involuntary jerking of the eyes that becomes more distinct when a person is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. While following a small object with your eyes, the officer will look for specific “clues”, such as onset of jerking before reaching a 45 degree angle, distinct jerking will looking all the way to the side, and an inability to smoothly follow the stimulus.
The problem with this test is that a number of medical, neurological, and eye disorders can also cause nystagmus. Without a medical degree, distinguishing a medical condition from intoxication is next to impossible.
Known as divided attention tests, the one-leg stand and walk-and-turn tests measure your ability to follow directions and perform a physical task, as both of these abilities become diminished due to intoxication. However, there are a number of issues with these tests. For example, they must be administered on flat, level, dry ground and the officer must clearly explain the instructions and demonstrate how they should be performed. If sloppily administered, you could be deemed under the influence–even if you aren’t!
You should also consider the number of distractions you may face while attempting to perform these tests. From the flashing of the patrol car’s lights to the wind coming off passing cars, these are numerous factors that could cause you to fail a field sobriety test.