Category Archives: Georgia DUI Information

Georgia DUI Information

Douglas B.Chanco

Victim Arrested for DUI After Officer Crashes into Her Car

It may come as a surprise, but these type of incidents do occur more often than they appear in the news. One night in February 2013, a Wisconsin deputy officer rolled past a stop sign and crashed into 25 year old Tanya Weyker’s car, breaking her neck in 4 places. “It was a miracle I wasn’t paralyzed,” Weyker remarked. Even before the authorities arrived at the scene, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Quiles blamed Weyker for the accident claiming that she was drunk.

The officers questioned her and noted that her speech was slurred and her eyes were red and glassy. Of course her eyes were red and glassy —she had been crying from the pain of her injuries. Even though she was too injured to blow into a breathalyzer, they arrested her for DUI on FIVE charges!

tanyaThe only pretense the officers had to treat her as a suspected drunk driver, was Quiles false statement. Drunk driving defense expert Andrew Mishlove said “If Deputy Quiles hadn’t essentially blamed the accident on her,” Mishlove argues,” they never would’ve drawn her blood. They never would’ve arrested her.” After all, Quiles was the one who rolled at the stop sign and crashed into her car with such speed that she suffered fractures. In his official report, Quiles wrote that he made a complete stop at the stop sign and also looked both ways before continuing. He also wrote that he never saw the headlights on Weyker’s Toyota Camry, despite the fact that her lights always switched on automatically when the vehicle started. Quiles only suffered minor injuries at the time.

Later, however, he did file for permanent disability which is still pending, and he has not worked since the accident. Look at the time line of this case: Feb 2013- Tanya Weyker is severely injured by Officer Quiles and arrested for DUI Two days after the crash- Sheriff’s office obtained the surveillance video that showed Quiles was responsible for the crash. One month after the crash- Weyker’s blood test comes back negative for alcohol in her blood Five months after the crash- Weyker’s Chemical tests prove that she did not have any drugs in her body Five months after the crash- The District Attorney’s office declined to file charges against Weyker and Deputy Quiles had admitted that he was at fault. But no one informed Weyker of all this and she was left in the dark. Ten months after the crash- Sheriff’s Office interviewed Deputy Quiles who admitted that he “rolled” past the stop sign. Today (15 months later) – Weyker is still waiting for the County to pay her medical bills which could top a million dollars, but state law puts a cap of $250,000 on claims against government agencies. She has filed a separate complaint against the deputy who arrested her which could develop into a civil rights lawsuit against the County, for which there is no dollar limit on damages. Hats off to Tanya for fighting this all the way to court. Weyker has always been a fighter. At the age of 3, she was diagnosed with cancer. Multiple radiation treatments caused her spine to curve. Doctors attached metal rods to her backbone. Despite all this, she went through school and obtained a college degree. And she was a safe driver—without ever having a speeding ticket. Read the article here http://fox6now.com/2014/05/01/sober-driver-arrested-for-owi-when-deputy-crashes-into-her/ If you or someone you know was wrongfully charged with a DUI in Georgia, get a professional attorney to fight your case. Call The Law Offices of Douglas B. Chanco Today! 1-855-9-ATL-DUI

Douglas B.Chanco

Sobriety Checkpoints and Civil Liberties

The  fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights states that:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmations, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Thus the Constitution protects drivers from being stopped without a search warrant or at least “probable cause.”

The Michigan Supreme Court found sobriety checkpoints to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment.  However, in a split decision, the US Supreme Court reversed the Michigan Court, thus allowing roadblocks but under certain conditions. Although acknowledging that such roadblocks violate a fundamental constitutional right, Chief Justice Rehnquist argued that they are necessary in order to reduce drunk driving.  That is, he argued that the end justifies the means.   This is “the DUI exception to the Constitution.”

Now the question: Do Sobriety Checkpoints violate our individual liberties?

Unconstitutional Sobriety Checkpoints, that violate a person’s right to privacy and violate their protection from unwarranted search and seizure, are not the answer to solving the Drunk Driving issue. Other methods need to be adopted that target the root of the problem, instead of subjecting all drivers to unnecessary suspicion and time delays.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), strongly promotes sobriety roadblocks implying that they are legal throughout the entire nation without exception. It says that “the U.S. Supreme Court on June 14, 1990 upheld the use of sobriety checkpoints to detect and deter impaired drivers. Previous appeals to the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of such checkpoints had been declined, which allowed high state court rulings to stand. The June 14, 1990 ruling clearly upheld the constitutionality of such enforcement measures.”

Critics of roadblocks are discredited and even finger pointed as being drunk themselves.  MADD stated, that “opponents of sobriety checkpoints tend to be those who drink and drive frequently and are concerned about being caught.”

However, many people who disagree with roadblocks are people of good will who have valid reasons for their concerns.

The biggest problem with sobriety checkpoints is the legal concept of “reasonable suspicion.” Just because an individual is driving down the highway does not mean that the driver is committing some crime and should not be subject to such suspicions. If a search and seizure is conducted at a roadblock, it is highly contestable in court because proper reasonable suspicion protocol was not followed.  Police officers should not hold a blank check to the right of search and seizure, and a roadblock detainment has been ruled as a “seizure” by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Furthermore, before a sobriety checkpoint can be considered ‘legal’, it must be explicitly authorized by statutory law and only operate for 2 hours at a time.

Opponents of roadblocks also cite that they are unproductive and don‘t help us make the best decisions about how to reduce impaired and drunk driving.

So why is it that 11 states currently prohibit sobriety checkpoints within their boundaries?  It is high time that Georgia joins this group of states that give their citizens more protections against unreasonable search and police sobriety roadblocks are prohibited.

Anyone charged with DUI as a result of a sobriety checkpoint should consider retaining an effective and experienced criminal defense attorney who can investigate the arrest and put together a strong defense that minimizes or eliminates the damage of a DUI conviction. Call the The Law Offices of Douglas B. Chanco Today!   1-855-9-ATL-DUI

 Sobriety Checkpoints

Eleven states currently prohibit suspicion-less checkpoints within their boundaries. These states appear in green to the right & include:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
Douglas B.Chanco

Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs

Many people take doctor prescribed medications every day. And they drive. What is disturbing is that more and more drivers are charged every day for driving under the influence of drugs. But these are not illicit street drugs, just doctor prescribed medication

.Prescription Drugs
Even if you claim that you are taking lawfully prescribed medication, an officer may arrest you if he believes that your driving is impaired. At that point you may have to submit to a blood or urine test. If the test returns positive, then the State of Georgia will likely prosecute you for a DUI Drugs. Your DUI attorney will argue in your defense whether the medications taken affected your ability to drive. The apparent presence of medications in your chemical tests, does not necessarily mean that you were impaired and an unsafe driver. The prosecutors will bring forth the officer’s testimony of your appearance, blood-shot, watery eyes and raspy voice, clammy skin, and/or a racing pulse for example. These symptoms appear as side effects of a number of medications or severe illness. A person suffering from hay fever or other allergic conditions also commonly display these symptoms. It does not mean that the person was on DRUGS or that his or her driving was impaired.

And what we are talking about here is prescription medication prescribed by a doctor. Innocent people are being prosecuted for just that – driving after having taken medication. Many pain killers, cough medicines and allergy pills that are do not impair a driver. It also depends on the person’s body size and resistance to side effects. Based on the officer’s observations of what he perceives to be symptoms of impairment, the case is taken to court. Most officers are not even properly trained in drug recognition. It would take a Drug Recognition Expert, DRE to come to the scene and examine you to determine if you were fit to drive.

The Law Offices of Douglas B. Chanco will conduct a two-tier analysis of your case. First we will question whether your constitutional rights were violated at the time of arrest and whether the police had a valid reason for stopping your car. We will find out about whether a DRE was called to the scene to examine your condition. We will challenge what expertise the officer had in determining impairment and if the officer looked for physical signs such as abnormal pulse rate or abnormal pupil dilation. Your attorney will obtain evidence, such as the pharmacology of the prescription drug, showing that your driving was not impaired, and possibly present other causes of impairment.

The second step in the analysis is to investigate the validity of the scientific evidence. Our attorneys will conduct an investigation into whether the blood or urine sample was accurately measured by the police. Due to improper use, sample contamination, or negligent laboratory procedures, the results may be proven to be unreliable. We will question the chain of custody and the handling of the sample.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, call The Law Offices of Douglas B. Chanco Today! We will fight for you to the fullest extent of the law. 1-855-9-ATL-DUI

THE INACCURACY OF BREATHALYZER MACHINES

Breath Testing Machines are Inaccurate

I really would like to know why Georgia persists in using breathalyzers to determine Blood Alcohol Content, while courts in other states have desisted or are questioning the accuracy of these devices and whether results obtained should be admissible. Georgia still uses the Intoxilyzer 5000 even though it is well known to be one of the most flawed breath testing devices in the market. It is known to have mechanical problems and an unreliable source code calculating the BAC.  The new machine, the Intoxilyzer 9000, faces many of the same issues.

THE INACCURACY OF BREATHALYZER MACHINES

Many people arrested for a DUI in Georgia are asked to take a breathalyzer test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC), under the Implied Consent Law. A refusal by the driver to give a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine will result in an automatic license suspension.

If you have been charged with a DUI based on Breathalyzer readings, there is still hope for your future. Many of the following arguments will be raised by your attorney to question the accuracy of breathalyzer machines and motion for those results to be inadmissible, thus weakening the prosecution’s case against you.

1. Breathalyzers do not make a distinction between alcohol and other substances such as mouthwash, mints, or lip balm and result in falsely elevated breath samples.

2. The Intoxilyzer 5000 is knowns to pick up radio waves from other devices, like computers and cell phones, which interefere with its accuracy.

3. Certain medical conditions such as acid reflux, diabetes, esophageal hernia, or other illnesses can result in elevated readings. Also a person with asthma or bronchitis for example, may not be able to blow a full lung’s worth of air into the machine.

4. The Intoxilyzer 5000 machine must be calibrated routinely for accuracy, which in Geogia, is done four times a year. Therefore any problems with the machine will not be known until the next checkup.

5. Georgia officers receive only minimal training in breathalyzer machine use, and it is very likely that the test is not administered correctly.

While many law enforcement agencies in Georgia are in the process of switching over to the new Intoxilyzer 9000, this is done on a police agency by police agency standard.  This piecemeal approach will likely lead to a delay in a uniform breath testing system existing in the entire State of Georgia.  While the Intoxilyzer 9000 has undergone many changes to assist it with some of the errors the Intoxilyzer 5000 encountered, the Intoxilyzer 9000 is still not 100% scientifically accurate or reliable. Attorney Doug Chanco is one of the Georgia attorneys who has received training on the Intoxilyzer 9000 and how it works and operates.

If you are charged with a DUI in Georgia, call The Law Offices of Douglas B. Chanco Today! We will fight for your rights and future. Remember, an arrest does not have to end in a conviction!  Call us today at 1-855-9-ATL-DUI.

Douglas B.Chanco

Police Will be Handing Out DUIs This Holiday Season

During the holidays, police will be on high alert for DUI through checkpoints and patrols.  If you are charged with DUI in Georgia, expect more this to affect you this coming year and for many years to come.
The penalties for a DUI in Georgia for a first offense are:

  • 1 year license suspension
  • 10 days to 1 year in jail
  • Fine of up to $1,000
  • 1 year probation
  • DUI school
  • 40 hours of Community Service

That is if you were not involved in an accident that caused damage to any vehicle or property or serious injury to a person or death. If that happened, then your DUI case can be classified as a felony offense, and you could face up to 15 years in state prison. In addition to prison time, you may be subject to large fines, community service, alcohol treatment, and DUI School.

If convicted of a felony, you will be prohibited from voting, owning firearms, and working in education or government positions. You may also face difficulties when renting an apartment or applying for a job due to your criminal record.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, please call 1-855-9-ATL-DU for a free case consultation.

Douglas B.Chanco

Stand on One Leg or Get Arrested

IFlamingo-standing-on-one-legf a police officer suspects you of drunk driving, they will likely ask you to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.  The problem is that these are not tasks that we do on a daily or even yearly basis.  For example, they will ask you to stand on one leg for 30 seconds without swaying.  That’s not natural.  We never stand on one leg.  We’re not flamingos!

Nonetheless, the officer will ask you to stand on one leg despite the fact that not being able to stand on one leg is not specifically related to alcohol impairment.  There plenty of people who because of old age, illness, weight, injuries, tiredness or plain clumsiness will not be able to stand on one leg- ever.  I know plenty of heavy-set police officers who themselves can’t stand on one leg.

The sad fact is that if a police officer- in their personal opinion, suspects you of being drunk and you happen to do poorly on these acrobatics then you are getting arrested and that is no laughing matter.

 

Douglas B.Chanco

Beware of DUI Checkpoints in Atlanta this Weekend

If you are going out this weekend beware of DUI checkpoints.

It is common for police to setup checkpoints on major roadways in and around Atlanta during holidays.  With many Halloween parties planned for the weekend, the police will be out in full force.

Before you go out, make sure to read: Georgia Drivers, Know Your Rights! Knowing your rights and making the right moves can decrease the chances of you being falsely arrested.

If you are arrested call 1-855-9-ATL-DUI! Under Georgia DUI laws, you will face jail time and a year-long license suspension even for a first offense.  This is why it is important for you to contact a qualified Atlanta DUI attorney immediately.

intox-9000

Georgia to Add New Breath Testing Device

Beginning this October, the State of Georgia will begin transitioning from its current statewide breath testing machine, the Intoxilyzer 5000, to the manufacturer’s new model, the Intoxilyzer 9000.

intox-9000The manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer 9000 CMI, Inc and the Department of Public Safety are touting the new device as more advanced and more accurate.  However, the very way that these devices are designed to work leave them error prone and faulty. The result is a readout based on mathematical averages and assumptions which is then used in court as evidence in an attempt to convict people of the offense of DUI.

As a member of the National College for DUI Defense, I have attended numerous training sessions which dealt with the faulty technology in these breath testing devices. I will also be attending additional training dealing specifically with the Intoxilyzer 9000 to better understand the device and use that knowledge for my clients.

If you have been charged with a DUI using a breath testing device, please call 1-855-9-ATL-DUI for a free consultation.

Douglas B.Chanco

Five Common Misconceptions made by First Time DUI Offenders

For many of the people I meet, a DUI is their first run-in with the law.  Most of the people accused are not hardened criminals or gang bangers.  A lot of them are common folk who made a bad decision.

Because of their lack of experience in dealing with criminal proceedings, people often make the wrong choices and fall prey to common misconceptions which could greatly alter the outcome of their case.  In my experience as a Fulton County prosecutor and as an Atlanta area DUI lawyer,  these are the top five misconceptions I have noticed:

5. I’ll get off easy because I have a clean record

Just because you have never committed a crime before does not mean you will be dealt with lightly.  DUI charges come with a lot of political pressure for prosecutors to push for the harshest penalties.  For a first offense, the penalties can include:

Jail Sentence: 10 Days to 12 months.

License Suspension: one year.

Fines: $300-$1,000

Community Service: Minimum of 40 hours for those over 21, 20 hours minimum for those under the age of 21. A judge will decide the actual hours.

DUI laws include mandatory minimums that must be imposed.  That means even if you are a model citizen, the judge has no choice but to impose at least the minimum penalty.  The prosecutor will almost certainly be pushing for more.

4. Pleading guilty will get me a lighter sentence

Pleading guilty early on in the case is not a good idea.  There should at least be a review of the evidence to see how it can be challenged.  Many times cases can be won and prosecutors can offer a better deal to avoid going to trial.  By pleading guilty, you have not put any pressure on them to give you a better option.

3. There is no way to disprove the DUI tests anyways

This is completely false.  Breath, blood and urine tests all have limitations and can be successfully challenged.  Many times equipments is improperly used and machines are not calibrated.  Also certain medical conditions can affect readings and yield artificially high blood alcohol readings.  A well trained and experienced DUI lawyers can scientifically challenge these tests which can help secure a dismissal of the case.

2. I don’t need a lawyer

DUI cases involve complex legal and scientific matters.  It is not a simple paper pushing procedure.  This is why it is recommended that you consult with a highly qualified DUI attorney not an inexperienced one.  Handling your case by yourself can make matters worse because you will find little help and will not know of some of the other options available. Getting the best lawyer you can find is the single most important step you can take to protect your rights.

1. It will all blow over in a couple months

Unfortunately, this isn’t going to go away by itself.  Even long after a conviction, your DUI can come back to haunt you.  It will remain on your permanent criminal history forever.  Every time an employer does a background check, they will see the DUI.  It may cause you to lose out on job opportunities.   There are also many private websites and apps that publish arrest and conviction info meaning and friend or acquaintance can easily see your DUI in seconds.  Plus there are a host of other consequences like increased insurance rates.  Just ignoring the problem will never make it go away and the longer you delay getting help the worse it will get.

The best thing you can do is to get professional help immediately.  If you are in the Atlanta area, call 1-855-9-ATL-DUI.

Douglas B.Chanco

Labor Day DUI Checkpoints in Georgia

Labor Day Weekend is one of the most traveled weekends of the year.  In response, police will be setting up DUI checkpoints in Atlanta and all over Georgia.

As in the past, I will be listing the location of any DUI checkpoints I find so that the citizens of Georgia can make informed and responsible decisions.  If you come across any DUI checkpoints, make sure to list them in the comments below.

Before you go out, make sure to read: Georgia Drivers, Know Your Rights! Knowing your rights and making the right moves can decrease the chances of you being falsely arrested.

If you are arrested call 1-855-9-ATL-DUI! Under Georgia DUI laws, you will face jail time and a year-long license suspension even for a first offense.  This is why it is important for you to contact a qualified Atlanta DUI attorney immediately.

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