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Georgia Supreme Court ruling affects breath tests in DUI cases

A recent ruling from the state's highest court was cited by the Hall County solicitor general when she reduced a man's original DUI charge to reckless driving. She said that the elimination of the breath test option when police officers pull over drivers suspected of intoxication limited the evidence available in the drunk driving case against a former Gainesville police officer.

She said that until the state legislature updates language in the implied consent notice for drunk driving suspects, police officers could only take samples via blood or urine. Without knowledge of the defendant's precise blood alcohol content, she chose to apply a reckless driving charge.

The man, who resigned from the police force shortly after his arrest, had been stopped on Interstate 985 for going 90 mph. He was believed to have been drinking. His attorney hoped that his apparent poor choice on that night would not be held against him for the rest of his life. The police chief told the media that the defendant had been an excellent police officer.

An arrest for drunk driving can have serious impacts on someone's career. With the stakes so high, a person might want legal representation when preparing to appear in court. An attorney may develop a DUI defense after examining the circumstances of the traffic stop. Mistakes made during the administration of a field sobriety test might weaken the prosecution and help a defense attorney gain a lower charge or lenient sentence. Efforts like this may help a person stay out of jail and eventually reapply for a driver's license.

Source: Gainesville Times, "Former Gainesville police officer's DUI case reduced to reckless driving", Nick Watson, April 10, 2019

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