Some officers, particularly rookie-level cops, are inexperienced, which can be used in your defense. I’ve even seen new officers screw something up in their testimony at trial.
Here in Chatham County, Georgia, officers typically will call in one of two experienced units in their jurisdiction: the H.E.A.T. Unit, which is the part of the Chatham County police that specializes in DUIs, or the state troopers. State troopers have a lot more training than anybody else, and if they’re on the stand for a jury trial, they can usually list training after training. State troopers are professional and know their stuff, which means you need a good lawyer who is used to dealing with them. State troopers are the ones I have to work with to prevent your driver’s license from being suspended.
How Often Do You Take DUI Cases to Trial?
We used to take cases to trial more often than we do now. The prosecution has grown tired of losing cases to us in trials, so they’re more willing to reduce the charges instead of wasting days in court. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity to resolve cases even more efficiently because there will be such a backlog of cases once we finally get back into court, they’ll want to resolve cases quickly.
How Are the Courts Operating in Your Area During the COVID-19 Crisis?
Right now, they are having municipal court in this jurisdiction. That means if you get a DUI in one of our cities around here or a smaller city within our county (Pooler, Tiwi Island, Thunderbolt, Bloomingdale, Garden City), those courts are running. They have COVID procedures requiring masks, and they limit how many people are in the buildings. You can’t have jury trials in a municipal court or a recorder’s court, which is also running here in Chatham County and takes first appearances. I’m resolving a lot of cases in those courts right now.
In contrast, state court, which handles jury trials, is not functioning right now and has been essentially closed since the beginning of the pandemic. If there’s a case that hasn’t been reduced and requires state court, it has become a waiting game. As I mentioned, there will be such a backlog when state court reopens that I predict we’ll have a number of favorable outcomes for many cases.
Can Someone Have a DUI Expunged or Non-Disclosed in Georgia?
No. That’s why it’s so important to hire an attorney.
Usually, with a first offense, I can resolve the case with a First Offender. Even with aggravated assault—let’s say you attacked someone with a deadly weapon or choked them—I can get you a First Offender, meaning your case records will be restricted and dismissed after you’ve complied with probation for three years. But I can’t do that for a DUI. Georgia law doesn’t allow it. In the view of most defense lawyers, this is something that’s fundamentally unfair. But, again, that’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to get an attorney because DUIs are permanent.
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