In every criminal case, you have fundamental rights. In DUI cases in particular, we make it our business to exercise each and every one of your fundamental rights when it is to your benefit to do so. Below are just some of the fundamental rights you have in DUI cases.
The Right to Be Free from Improper Stops of Your Car
You have the right to be free from improper stops of your car. Law enforcement must have what is referred to as a “reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity” in order to stop your car. Put another way, law enforcement must be able to list an objective observation which supports the stop of your car. They can't stop you because of the color of your skin. They can't stop you because of the type of car you drive. Additionally, they can't pull you over just because they saw you leave the parking lot of a bar, nor can they stop you because of the time of day or night.
We carefully examine police reports to ensure a valid reason is provided for the stop of a car in DUI cases. Where there is no legally supportable reason provided, we seek dismissal based on a violation of a fundamental right. But we don't stop there. If a legally supportable reason is provided, we continue to investigate. For example, the police report may reference an excessive rate of speed or weaving over the fog or center line. These are both legitimate reasons for a stop. However, with the advent of technology, most law enforcement vehicles are equipped with video technology. We carefully review all traffic stop videos to confirm the alleged illegal conduct actually occurred.
The Right to Be Free from Unreasonable Search and Seizure
You have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Even if you are legitimately pulled over, this does not mean law enforcement has an unfettered right to search your vehicle or collect potential evidence against you. Instead, there must be probable cause to pursue a search of your person or your property unless you give consent to the search.
This means even if the police pull you over for weaving on the roadway, they may not be able to require you to submit to a breath or blood test. Instead, law enforcement must have objective evidence of intoxication before requiring you to test.
The Right to Remain Silent
Even if law enforcement has the right to ask you to test, you still have a fundamental right to remain silent. Commonly referred to as the Miranda warning, you should be informed before any questioning when you are in custody, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.” We first examine the facts to determine if you were questioned while in custody. Next, we review the evidence to determine whether you were provided the Miranda warning. Finally, we ensure the warning was properly and completely given.
But that is not the end of our analysis. In addition to the obligation to provide a Miranda warning, law enforcement must obtain a knowing and intelligent waiver of the right before proceeding to questioning. In other words, they must ask you something along the lines of “Bearing these rights in mind, do you wish to speak with me about the case?” We carefully review the evidence to determine if this fundamental right was violated.
The Right to Challenge Test Results
Just because the government offers a test result which suggests you were over the legal limit doesn't mean you have no choice but to plead guilty. Test results are calculated by an instrument that requires calibration and regular maintenance. If either of these things doesn't occur, the test results may be suspect. Further, sometimes test results are subject to interpretation. There may be issues with the collection of the blood or the appropriateness of the tube used to store the blood between the time of collection and the time of testing.
In any event, you have a fundamental right to review the evidence against you. Where appropriate, you have the right to vigorously challenge the test results in your case. A successful challenge could result in the case being dismissed or the charges being reduced.
The Right to a Trial
In every criminal case, you have a fundamental right to a trial. The government must prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. They are required to bring in witnesses to testify against you. You are allowed to cross-examine the state's witnesses as well as call witnesses of your own. You also have a fundamental right to testify in your case or remain silent. If you choose to remain silent, neither the prosecutor nor the judge can comment on this to the jury. Whether or not to take a case to trial depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. This is a decision you should make with qualified counsel.
If You are Facing DUI Charges...
If you are facing DUI charges, there could be significant consequences. These consequences could impact your liberty, your finances, your driving privileges, your future or current employment, and even possibly your ability to find suitable housing for you and your family. Don't leave your future to chance.
If you are charged with a DUI in Alpharetta, Chamblee, Doraville, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Roswell, or Sandy Springs, contact us. We look forward to speaking with you about your case. We will carefully review the charges, the police reports, and the test results to determine whether any of your fundamental rights have been violated. Such violations could result in a reduction of the charges or even an outright dismissal. Let us put our experience to work for you.