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Simple probation violation leads to death

My good friend Randy Travis of Fox5 News did an investigation into a Georgia DUI case that led to a tragic end in the custody of law enforcement. Find the full story here:

http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/i-team/why-did-gwinnett-deputies-ignore-doctors-order-to-get-sick-inmate-help-immediately

 

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Change in Georgia DUI Law!

Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a monumental opinion regarding breath tests under Georgia DUI law: unlike the US Constitution, the Georgia Constitution sees such actions as self-incriminating. Now, they stopped short of ruling the “implied consent” law as coercive and upheld the guy’s conviction; HOWEVER, the Court instructed trial courts to look at the totality of circumstances to determine coercion (i.e., was the officer’s actions over the top? Did you feel required to blow? etc.). If the court finds coercion, the test will be tossed absent some warrantless search exception. Another score for liberty!!cropped-cropped-dscn00171.jpg

Easiest way to get out of a DUI

It’s Friday, folks! And that means it’s time to kick off the weekend in just a few hours. Time for Happy Hour and time with friends and family. Time to unwind and maybe kick a couple back. But what if 2 becomes 3 or 4 or 15? The easiest way to not get busted for a DUI is simple – plan ahead. And the purpose of this post is to show that there are options other than the standard “have a DD” like the old days (although I must admit that whenever I am the DD, I have a lot of fun watching my friends). You could plan an uber for example and that’s a helluva lot cheaper than a cab. No DD and no money for uber? No worries! Several police departments that are community partners, like Canton Police, will give you a ride home for free. So, plan ahead, have a blast and HAPPY FRIDAY, everyone!

Medicine Men…I mean Drug Recognition Experts…I mean Evaluators

What do you call modern day hacks who insist they can tell what drug a person has ingested just by looking at him? A DRE (drug recognition evaluator) is someone law enforcement may call to help aid them in determining whether or not you are DUI. They are “specially trained” to look for drugs, but here’s the reality – they base their decisions on pseudo-science and are not qualified to testify as experts at trial. So, it goes like this, you get pulled over and blow a 0.0 and do ok on the field sobriety tests. All good, right? No. If the officer calls in his buddy, the DRE, the DRE will poke his voodoo doll, determine you to be under the influence of drugs and you will be arrested. Then, they’ll likely pull your blood and take you to jail. Then, a lot of times, the blood work comes back with nothing in your system so the case is reduced to a traffic violation or whatever and that’s it in the State’s eyes. Wait…That’s it?!? What do you mean that’s it? You just went through a battery of tests under stressful conditions, probably had a cop lecture you on the way to the jail or forestation, had your blood drawn, got put in handcuffs, spent a day or two traumatized and treated like a piece of meat in jail, paid for a bond, had to go through the horror of upcoming court dates, likely got your license suspended, all for them to say, “Oops. Guess the DRE was wrong. It’s a $150 fine and that’s it.” They are the equivalent of K9 handlers tipping off their dogs, which happens quite often as well. And it’s not right. Don’t trust these kinds of unreasonable searches and seizures under any circumstances. And don’t go it alone.

But I wasn’t drunk!!

I would say that close to 70% of people who walk into my office insist that they weren’t drunk at the time and, guess what, I believe them. That’s because the image in our heads of being “drunk” is usually quite over the top. Stumbling, unable to speak, vomit running down the front of a shirt, aggressiveness, loud….and most people simply don’t get to that state and just like to “keep the buzz going.” The problem is that in Georgia you don’t have to be drunk to get a DUI. You can get a DUI after just a sip of beer. Hell, you can get a DUI after taking a sleep aid. That’s the whole nonsense of the “DUI (Less Safe)” Georgia law. The bad news is it is treated just like any other DUI (isn’t that B.S.? You have one beer and blow a 0.001 and you and the guy who funneled a case and blew a 0.25 get the same sentence)! The good news is that it is much easier to get a DUI (Less Safe) knocked down to a reckless driving or traffic infraction if you have a lawyer. This is why it is important to hire a lawyer who knows the prosecutors and courts well.

Trusting Georgia DDS on DUI

Like most other government agencies, the DDS can get quite overworked. I can’t tell you how many cases I’ve handled where the client swears he called DDS and they said his license wasn’t suspended only to find out later that it was. Explaining that to law enforcement when they pull you over is like trying to explain to rock how to move. But now with this new Georgia DUI law, you have to be extra vigilant. And then don’t trust them. Under the new law, you have 30 days to appeal your suspension. Used to be the arresting officer would simply hand you a form, you both sign it and you had ten days to appeal the suspension. Not anymore. Now you have to be vigilant and call the DDS often to ENSURE your license hasn’t been suspended. But honestly, I don’t trust them even then. I’ve seen far too many cases where that wasn’t enough. Here at Etowah Law, we file for an appeal whether DDS says the officer turned in the paperwork or not. After all, it’s our client’s license and keeping our client driving is our primary concern.

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The new Georgia DUI law has changed drastically

BREAKING! NEW GEORGIA DUI LAW!

BREAKING NEWS! AS OF JULY 1, 2017, THE 10 DAY RULE IS FINALLY DEAD!

For a long time, Georgia drivers accused of DUI had to appeal their automatic license suspension within 10 business days or lose it for up to a year. Things have changed! Now, Georgia drivers accused of DUI are given a few options in order to keep their driver’s licenses while their criminal case is pending.

• First time Georgia DUI offenders over the age of 21 may have the option of having an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for 4-12 months depending on whether they consented to a breath, blood, or urine test. This is a device that is similar to the straw you may have blown into at the time of your arrest and, just like that device, it measures the alcohol in your breath at the time you start the car and several times as you drive it. You must request this option within 30 days! And it does cost around $400 for the year.

• If your license is subject to administrative suspension, you must file an appeal with the Georgia DDS within 30 days. Miss the deadline, lose your license! There is an appeal fee of $150 that must be paid within that time.

• You can of course choose to do nothing which will usually result in an automatic suspension of your Georgia drivers license for up to a year.

Your lawyer will advise you of what’s the best option for you and your Georgia DUI case. Keep in mind, these options are not sentences on your criminal DUI case! These are the options you have while your DUI case is pending so you can still go to work, school, pick up the kids, etc.

DUI: A look at Legislative Mindset

Billy Bob knew for certain, without exception, that his son, Willy, was the best teenage football player in the county. He was the fastest. He was the smartest. And he was a good student too. He was a natural leader, a starting quarterback, and a future All-American. Billy Bob knew it and he was proud. He checked his e-mail at least twenty times a day after those tryouts, waiting for Mr. Coach to give him the thumbs up to Willy’s future, waiting for Mr. Coach to confirm Willy’s starting role this fall. After a few days without an e-mail, Billy Bob couldn’t take it anymore. He heard other parents had received e-mails (some even got phone calls!) inviting their sons to join the high school team, but he had received nothing. Perhaps Mr. Coach lost Billy Bob’s contact info. That’s probably what it was.

Billy Bob called Mr. Coach and broke the ice with comments about the weather, some goofy kid at the tryout, and a funny story about Mr. Coach’s assistants’ spontaneous karaoke outing at the local Mexican place the weekend before. After a few minutes of lighthearted gibber jabber, Billy Bob moved to engage Mr. Coach about Willy, the future star. From then on, it did not go well. Not at all. Not only did Mr. Coach not offer Willy the starting quarterback position, he failed to offer Willy a position at all. He suggested that perhaps Junior Varsity would be a better fit. Billy Bob slammed the phone down. He threw it across the room, breaking his window. He screamed profanities at the top of his lungs. How could Mr. Coach be so blind? How could Mr. Coach play such favorites? Does he want to lose every game? Does he have his head so far up the other parents’ asses that he can’t see the talent, the raw freaking talent, right in front of him?!

Billy Bob tried to sleep that night, but he couldn’t. He didn’t tell his son either. He just sat there. And boiled. And boiled. The next morning, he got in his car and drove in a haze to the school. He waited in the parking lot. And at exactly 8:30 a.m., he saw Mr. Coach get out of his car and start walking to the gymnasium. Billy Bob exited his vehicle, grabbed a crowbar, and followed him. “Mr. Coach!” he yelled and his voice cracked at the end, choking on his name. The rest, as they say, is history. Mr. Coach ended up with severe lacerations upon his face and head. Several teeth were broken. His skull was cracked in six places and his family, his daughter and wife, stood by his side in the hospital while the doctors put him back together. Billy Bob was charged with Aggravated Battery and sentenced to five years probation and because he had never been charged with a felony before, he was sentenced under Georgia’s First Offender Act which allowed him to keep it all off his record. Almost like it never happened!

Meanwhile, Jeannette, a straight A student, broke her foot as she dismounted her horse. It was painful, extremely painful. Her mother took her to the hospital where she was placed in a boot and she was given some moderate pain meds to help her sleep. Everything seemed to be going fine and she thanked God for being able to rest comfortably. One day, it was a Thursday, she had a morning class at Kennesaw State and, thus, she had to get up earlier than usual. She drove to KSU and as she pulled into student parking, a KSU police officer pulled in behind her. She asked what was wrong and the officer informed her that he saw her weave out of her lane a mile or so back. He asked for her license and asked if she had been drinking.

Jeannette was never one to conceal anything, so she told the officer the truth. She had not had anything to drink, but she was a little woozy from some pain meds she had been prescribed due to her broken foot. The officer raised his eyebrows and asked her to step out of the car. He arrested her right then and there for DUI Drugs. She bawled as she had never been in trouble before. Ever!

She pled guilty to the offense and asked the judge to treat her as a First Offender under the Georgia First Offender Act. The judge said that was not possible, nor was any sort of conditional discharge or pre-trial diversion. This was going on her record forever. Period! The judge explained that it was not his call; the Georgia Legislature decided that DUI was one of the very few crimes, along with murder and rape, that a defendant is not allowed to use a First Offender, Conditional Discharge, or Pre-Trial Diversion on. DUI, he said, is therefore considered in some ways more serious than even the most serious felonies in Georgia. As a result, Billy Bob’s future employment opportunities are protected, but Jeannette’s are forever limited. Sound fair? Sound just? Welcome to the mindset of the Georgia Legislature.

 

Do I need a patent lawyer?

Intellectual Property takes many forms including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. A patent is an invention, a trademark is a logo or artwork and a copyright is written material such as a song or novel. There are many IP lawyers out there who charge an arm and a leg (average IP lawyer hourly rate is $550/hour according to LexisNexis).  That said, know this, you do NOT need a specialty IP lawyer unless you have a patent. For example, my practice regularly handles trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets along with the start-up process and our rate is less than HALF the average. Having your business lawyer handle your IP needs, patents being the exception, makes sense. He/she knows your business and your goals and, thus, can make effective suggestions to you when you finalize that cool logo you’ve been working on.