Georgia DUI Survival Guide
Coweta County DUI Attorney: Criminal Defense Attorney serving Newnan, GA
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DUI Cases Defended by Allen Trapp
- Case No. 1: This young man was involved in a horrific one-vehicle rollover accident near Newnan after he fell asleep while driving north on I-85 in Coweta County. The Georgia State Patrol Officer who investigated the wreck thought he smelled alcohol on his breath and requested a blood test, and blood was drawn at the scene by an EMT from Newnan. Although the test was negative for alcohol, it was allegedly positive for cocaine and benzoylecgonine, an inactive metabolite of cocaine, “below the lowest calibrator.” Consequently, he was charged with driving under the influence of drugs. Our chief witness, who holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology and teaches at the University of Georgia pharmacy school, explained to the jury why this test result should have been reported as negative by the crime lab. The jury understood and after deliberating for about a half an hour returned a “two word” verdict.
- Case No. 2: The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed this man's conviction for DUI drugs in a case that arose from an arrest in Newnan. The State charged him with "per se" DUI, which means driving with any amount of a controlled substance or the metabolites of the drugs in a driver's system. In the State Court of Coweta County we argued that the mere presence of alprazolam (Xanax) did not warrant a conviction because the statute violated our client's equal protection rights, but the trial court found otherwise. However, the Court of Appeals agreed with our position that the disparate treatment of legal and illegal Xanax users ran afoul of the Constitution and reversed the conviction for driving under the influence of drugs. The decision clearly would impact prosecution for driving under the influence of hydrocodone, oxycontin, Prozac, methamphetamine, and other controlled substances.
- Case No. 3: Our client, who had drunk two beers while doing yard work, was stopped for speeding on Highway 34 in Coweta County. He and his stepfather had gone from Newnan to Peachtree City to get some tequila to make margaritas for his mother and wife. The trooper was hyper-critical in his grading of the field sobriety tests, and the man simply did not appear to be under the influence. What the client did not know was that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, can falsely elevate the reading on an Intoxilyzer 5000. The client's family doctor explained how GERD works, and our breath testing expert explained how it affected the breath test result. Despite the readings of .119 and .131, this man was found not guilty and saved his career.
- Case No. 4: This gentleman and his wife were traveling down I-85 south of Newnan when they were stopped by a Georgia State Patrol officer. Two minutes and five seconds after the officer first spoke to the client he placed him under arrest for DUI. The man had simply refused to blow into a portable breath testing device because he “did not know where it had been” and had heard they were inaccurate. As a result he was arrested and booked into the Coweta County jail in Newnan. During the trial his wife presented the receipt from a pharmacy to show when they had left their home in north Georgia and one from a restaurant on Camp Creek Parkway, which revealed what they had to eat and drink less than an hour before the traffic stop near Newnan. The jury must have felt that two beers was not an excessive amount for a 250-pound man, because they found him not guilty of the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol in ten minutes. He paid the fine for speeding and went to the local DDS office in Newnan to reinstate his license before heading home.
- Case No. 5: This female client was followed on Highway 34 Bypass into Newnan by an individual who called 911, reported their location, and described her driving as they passed through Coweta County. Our client’s performance on field sobriety tests was problematic at best, and according to the police she refused to submit to a blood test after she was arrested for DUI. Luckily for our client, her family doctor issued a narrative report describing her medical conditions and confirming that her behavior could easily be mistaken for the manifestations of someone under the influence of alcohol. After he had reviewed the doctor’s letter, a report provided by our investigator, who is a former Georgia State Patrol officer, and a video recording of the traffic stop, the prosecutor decided to reduce the charge to reckless driving.
- Case No. 6: This college student was driving on 34-Bypass in Newnan when he decided to make a u-turn, which an officer apparently thought was "illegal." Although the results of the portable breath test was under .02, his performance of the field sobriety tests was problematic, and he acknowledged taking a Xanax earlier in the day. On the other hand, his speech and behavior seemed quite normal. The officer from the Newnan Police Department arrested him for DUI and requested a blood test, which our client refused. Although we believed the stop was invalid and that we might have won a motion to suppress on that basis because the Judge of the Newnan Municipal Court is very thoughtful and known for being well versed in the law, the client was not inclined to gamble when the prosecutor agreed to a plea to reckless driving. Once again, he was one of those individuals who must have a driver's license in order to keep his job, so failure was not an option.
- Case No. 7: This man was in Newnan on a business trip when he turned the wrong way into the eastbound traffic lanes on Bullsboro Drive. He was stopped by a Coweta County deputy and charged with DUI, reckless driving, and driving on the wrong side of the road. One of our witnesses, who was also from out-of-state, testified that the intersection where our client turned left on the outskirts of Newnan was one of the most poorly designed he had seen in years of business travel. The prosecutor thought he was being clever when he asked the witness if he had any trouble driving from the airport to Newnan that night. On re-direct examination I asked if he had ever had trouble in Coweta County on any other occasion, and he responded that he had. In fact, made the same mistake our client made at the same intersection. It took the jury thirty-five minutes to find our client not guilty of driving under the influence, reckless driving and driving on the wrong side of the road.
- Case No. 8: This gentleman was stopped about 2:00 A.M. for speeding near the University of West Georgia. The officer insisted that he perform field sobriety tests, but our client adamantly refused and repeatedly denied drinking. He was, of course, arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol as well as speeding. We began final trial preparation, during which time we obtained medical records from his physician in Newnan. We furnished a report to the solicitor, who recognized that the man, who is a diabetic, may have been suffering a hypoglycemic attack at the time of the traffic stop. He decided to offer the client a plea to a minor traffic violation with six months probation and a small fine. Our client decided to accept the offer.
- Case No. 9: This client had just left what is sometimes referred to as the local "shoe show" and was returning to his hotel. An officer in an unmarked vehicle followed him and stopped him for "failure to maintain lane" in the parking lot of a pharmacy. Following the administration of field sobriety tests, the officer arrrested him for driving under the influence. However, the video(s) did not confirm the timely reading of the impied consent warning. We filed a motion to suppress challenging the legality of the stop and the timing of the implied consent warning. Two days before the scheduled motion hearing, the prosecutor dismissed the DUI charge and the charge of failure to maintain lane.
- Case No. 10: This young man had been to a sports event in Atlanta and had just left a friend at his house in a rural area. It was raining quite heavily, and he was not familiar with the roadway. His pickup truck left the road and ended up stuck in a ditch. Two deputies showed up, the more experienced took charge of the investigation, and our client was arrested for DUI. We filed a motion to suppress, challenging the lack of probable cause for the arrest because all the field sobriety tests had been performed in rainy, muddy conditions. On the date of the hearing the charge was reduced to reckless driving, which saved our client's license and kept him out of jail. Since his employment required travel across several states, keeping his license was of prime importance.
- Case No. 11: This lady was stopped on the Interstate by a Georgia State Patrol officer while returning from her daughter's birthday celebration in Atlanta. She must have asked too many questions because the officer eventually arrested her for driving under the influence, although she did not appear to be particularly impaired on the video of the traffic stop. She refused to take the state administered test, and before she came to see us had been told that she should agree to plead guilty if the officer would withdraw the administrative suspension. We took a more aggressive approach toward trial preparation and within a month had arranged a plea to reckless driving. This meant no license suspension, no jail time, and no DUI conviction.
- Case No. 12: The accused got lost about forty miles from home while she was returning to her residence in Cobb County from the airport in Atlanta when she was stopped and charged with driving under the influence. We explained to the jury that she had not refused to submit to the state administered breath test but was unable to provide an adequate breath sample because she had bronchitis, and we made an issue of the fact that neither of the officers involved in this case said she was faking her attempts to blow into the Intoxilyzer. We emphasized that the police officer who arrested her could have designated a blood test instead of a breath test, that our client could not make that decision, and that a person cannot pretend to submit to a blood test. Our theory of the case was quite simple: We were there in the courtroom because of his decision not to offer our client a blood test. This jury also acquitted our client of driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Case No. 13: This young man was driving down a two-lane highway when he came upon a car that was stopped to make a left turn at an intersection. He attempted to pass on the right, but the shoulder of the highway was muddy, so his vehicle slipped into a ditch. A law enforcement officer arrived on the scene, performed the field sobriety exercises, and then placed our client under arrest for DUI. After the officer read the Implied Consent warning, the young man refused to submit to a breath test on the Intoxilyzer. Our cross-examination of the officer revealed numerous errors in the way he administered and evaluated the field sobriety tests. Later our expert, who is a field sobriety testing expert who has trained hundreds of officers, pointed out to the jury things the officer did wrong on the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus). Although we were concerned about this jury panel - after all we left a former MADD contributor and volunteer on the jury - they did the right thing and found our client not guilty.
- Case No. 14: Our client was stopped for driving 62 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone on Highway 34 near Newnan. The Georgia State Patrol officer conducted field sobriety tests and arrested her for DUI. He requested a blood test, and she consented. There were some serious problems with the way this blood was handled before and after its delivery to the crime lab. The prosecutor in the State Court of Coweta County offered the client a plea to reckless driving with a fine of $509. She entered her plea and went home with no jail time, no license suspension, no community service, and no DUI school requirement.