Georgia DUI Defense
Know Your Rights.
David R. Willingham is one of the most successful DUI trial attorneys in the State of Georgia. Many talk the talk (and charge astronomical fees in the process), but David does his talking in the courtroom, by winning.
His track record speaks for itself: Few attorneys can say that they are UNDEFEATED in DUI refusal cases, but Mr. Willingham can – he has tried many, many refusal cases, and never lost. Not once. While Mr. Willingham cannot guarantee or promise any particular result in your case, to say that you have a good fighter going into the ring with Mr. Willingham, is an understatement.
Mr. Willingham has completed the same training in DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Training as all police officers in the State of Georgia. Additionally, Mr. Willingham has extensive training on the science and operation of the Intoxilyzer 9000, the State’s official chemical breath testing device. Mr. Willingham has also had the honor of being invited, as a defense lawyer, to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, Georgia to teach police officers on the topic of courtroom DUI testimony and to conduct mock DUI trials.
Georgia DUI law is complex. Just because you have been arrested and charged, does not mean you will be convicted in court. You need a skilled and experienced attorney to help you fight the charges against you.
Your Driver’s License
If the arresting officer took your driver’s license, time is of the essence. You must file an appeal with the Department of Driver Services within 30 calendar days of your arrest, along with a filing fee of $150. These instructions should be included on the back of the DPS-1205 form you were issued at the time of your arrest. This is the form that says Temporary Driver’s License at the bottom. In order to save your driving privileges, you must act now. Give us a call today so we can handle this for you.
When the police pull you over for suspicion of DUI, they must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you have committed a traffic violation. Often times, this alleged “offense” is captured on dash cam video and Mr. Willingham can assess how much the officer exaggerates in his report about your driving. If your driving looks good, your case is off to an excellent start.
Next, once the police officer makes contact with you at your window, the “personal contact” phase of the investigation, no detail is too minor – how are you behaving? Are you slurring your speech? Are you eyes watery, glassy and/or bloodshot? Do you have trouble finding and handling documents, such as your license and registration? Is there an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle? The officer will note all of these facts in his report to make you sound impaired. That’s the officer’s job, to build a case against you.
Once you step out of the vehicle, unfortunately the decision has probable already been made that you will be arrested for DUI, and the officer next wants you to incriminate yourself for the camera by having you perform “voluntary” Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Yes – these tests are voluntary and you never have to do them, but it can be very intimidating being pulled over for DUI and most folks simply want to appease the officer and do what they are told. Plus, the officers are trained to smooth talk you into thinking that the tests are no big deal. They are a big deal, and deciding to do them or not can make or break your test.
“The eyes don’t lie,” as prosecutors love to say. If you stood there for what seemed like an eternity with the officer waiving that pen or his finger in front of your face, he was conducting the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, or “HGN.” Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of your eye and there are hundreds of types. It is something you don’t even know you’re doing. Clients say all the time: “I stayed perfectly still,” or, “I didn’t move my head at all and looked at his pen the entire time, I did great.” Well, that’s not what the officer was looking for.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus occurs when your eyes follow an object from side to side and they jerk ever so slightly. Think of your windshield wipers – if you turn them on when it is raining, they will flow across your windshield smoothly and seamlessly. But, if you accidentally turn them on when it is not raining, they will skip across your windshield. That’s the concept. Nystagmus occurs for many different reasons and is a medical phenomenon. When someone has drugs or alcohol in their system, specifically a Central Nervous System Depressant, or “CNS,” nystagmus will show. Nystagmus is also caused by recent head trauma, neurological disorders and sometimes, naturally. When the officer administers this test correctly, he may observe the jerking and note that as a clue that you are impaired. However, the test is only as good as the way in which it is administered. In every DUI case, Mr. Willingham will grade the officer on his administration of HGN. More often that not, the officer makes mistakes that will work to your benefit.
Walk and Turn/One Leg Stand
These physical dexterity tests, or divided attention tests, were designed by the National Highway and Traffic Administration, or NHTSA, to mimic the cognitive functions of driving – steering at the same time as adjusting speed, mirrors, judging traffic around you, etc. These tests are glorified parlor games. They are difficult to perform correctly sober and in Mr. Willingham’s experience, juries are typically not that impressed, one way or the other. However, Mr. Willingham will study your performance, as well as the officer’s instructions to make sure he is up to par.
Breath and Blood Testing
Soon after you were handcuffed, the officer should have read you an orange card called the Georgia Implied Consent Notice. This may have sounded confusing, and it’s designed to be. At the end of the Notice, the officer asks you to consent to a chemical test of your blood, breath, urine, or any other bodily substance. It’s your right to refuse this testing. If you refuse, the officer may threaten to suspend your diver’s license, but worry not, 9.9 times out of 10, this never happens. Sometimes, the officer will go around your refusal and seek a search warrant to compel you to submit to a blood test. The law surrounding this procedure is very complex and evolving. If the officer secured a search warrant to get your blood, you need to call Mr. Willingham right away.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to DUI, the bottom line is that a lot is on the line – jail time, your driver’s license, insurance rates, your professional license and your reputation. Mr. Willingham has successfully represented people from all walks of life, to great success. He understands what’s at stake and takes great care in addressing your needs.
Give Willingham Law Firm, P.C. a call at 678-984-3357 today to set up a FREE consultation.