The internet is a powerful resource, but the lack of control over information makes it that much easier for misinformation to spread. Particularly when it comes to legal matters, making decisions based off of misconceptions found on the internet can have permanent negative consequences in your life. A large amount of incorrect information about DUI charges has spread online, making it difficult to tell what is fact and what is fiction.
If you are charged with a DUI in Georgia, no amount of online research can compare with the expert advice of an experienced DUI attorney. Many people mistakenly believe that DUI laws are consistent throughout the United States. In fact, Georgia’s DUI laws have been ranked the second toughest in the country and differ in many ways from other state’s laws.
IS DUI IS PART OF MY PERMANENT RECORD IN GEORGIA?
Many people believe that DUI will come off their record after seven years – this is not true. Petty traffic offenses like running a red light are only put on your Motor Vehicle Report for the purpose of insurance and points and will come off after seven years.
A DUI, however, is a misdemeanor traffic offense and will give you a permanent criminal record. There are only two ways for a DUI to be removed from your record: if the State completely dismisses all charges or if you go to trial and a judge or jury finds you not guilty of all offenses (including related driving offenses).
A common mistake is the belief that a reduced sentence (to reckless driving, for example) will be eligible for record restriction, but in reality, charges must be completely dismissed, not just reduced. In most cases, it is impossible for an attorney to do anything about a DUI case after it has already been resolved. The time to reach out to an attorney is while the case is still pending.
WHAT WILL HELP ME WITH MY DUI CASE IN GEORGIA?
Completing your community service and DUI school before court helps demonstrate that you take the charges seriously, but it does not, as often believed, warrant a dismissal of charges. You also will not be able to have DUI charges dismissed through a Pre-Trial Diversion or First Offender Plea. These programs explicitly do not include DUI charges.
It is also a common misconception that having a “political” connection, like friendship with a judge, elected official or another police officer, can help you get DUI charges reduced or dismissed. Asking for a friend to use their influence to help with your charges can put your friendship in an awkward position, especially considering the social stigma tied to a DUI, and it is usually best to leave these connections out of your case.
WHAT FACTORS MIGHT CAUSE MY GEORGIA DUI CASE TO BE DISMISSED?
Many people believe that if the police officer who pulled them over was out of his or her jurisdiction, the arrest was unlawful. Except for specific exceptions such as university police, most police officers can pull someone over outside the city or county they are employed in. All deputy sheriffs have statewide arrest powers. Your case is also unlikely to be dismissed because the officer did not read you your Miranda Rights – these rights refer to a citizen’s protection against self-incrimination and generally do not apply to DUI cases.
There is also a persistent misconception that the court will not be aware of out-of-state arrests or convictions; a prosecutor will run a check for arrests and convictions in the state of Georgia first, but this report will include a code that indicates if someone is a “multi-state offender.” The prosecutor most likely will then run a national criminal history check.
Others believe that a DUI that occurred more than 10 years ago cannot be held against you in your current case. This is a misunderstanding of Georgia’s 10-year rule, which details mandatory increases in punishment for DUIs within a 10-year period. There is nothing that prevents a court for holding prior offenses against a defendant.
DUI ARREST DOES NOT MEAN GUILT
One of the most dangerous misconceptions about a DUI is that an arrest means you are guilty. In the United States, everyone enjoys the presumption of innocence, and it is possible for an attorney to successfully defend you against a DUI charge. If you have been charged with a DUI in Georgia, do not let online misinformation permanently change your life. An expert attorney will know the myths, misconceptions and misinformation about DUI charges and be prepared to defend you effectively.